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Gede archaeological site

Gede is an archaeological ruin on the Mombasa-Malindi road, about 32 kilometres from Malindi town. This ruin dates back to at least the 13th century and was abandoned in the early 17th century. It is made up of several buildings, including a mosque, a palace and several residential houses. An inner and outer wall surrounded the ruin. Most of the remains have been recovered within the inner walls, although there are a few buildings in between the two walls.

Remains of amenities, such as toilets, bathrooms, water system and wells, have been excavated. This is a sign that the occupants of this ruin were well off.

Artefacts, such as Chinese porcelain, glass and glazed earthenware from Persia, have been recovered, indicating trade between the local inhabitants and those from across the Indian Ocean. Other artefacts recovered from the site are an Indian lamp, Venetian beads and Spanish scissors.

The inhabitants of this area are believed to have been of Muslim descent, although, after its decline, there is a possibility of other groups, including the nomadic Galla tribe of Somalia, having moved in to settle here. One of the mysteries of the Gede ruins is why the city was abandoned, yet there is no evidence of battle, plague, disturbance or any cause for this sudden desertion.

One hypothesis, however, is that this city’s Swahili inhabitants might have been threatened by the approach of the Galla, known to have been hostile.

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