History and social studies
Archaeological finds reveal that the maldives islands were inhabited as early as 1500 BCE. The first settlers arrived around 500 BCE and are thought to have been Aryans. In the pre-Islamic period (before CE 1153), according to the accounts of Persian and Arab travelers, the Maldives was ruled by women. After that date, only four queens ruled, the last one in the early 16th century.Loamaafaanu are thin sheets of copperplates attached with an iron ring at one end and were the official grants given by the Sultans to the mosques. They were hung inside the mosque for everyone who entered to see and to read. It is believed that every mosque would have hung a Loamaafaanu but now only parts of four sets survive from an estimated two hundred sets. The four surviving copperplates are referred to as Gamu Loamaafaanu (1194/95 CE), Isdhoo Loamaafaanu (1195/96 CE), Dhanbidhoo Loamaafaanu (1196/97 CE) and Kidahuvadhoo Loamaafaanu (13c CE). The custom of hanging copperplates came from mainland India a country with which the Maldives shared the same religion until embracing Islam in 1153 CE.
The copperplates shed light on the time of the Maldives conversion from Buddhism to Islam and on the culture, tradition and lifestyle of the people. They therefore reflect a key turning point in the development of the communities and states in the Indian Ocean.