The age of the town of Malindi still is not known. However, by examining traditional oral histories, contemporary written accounts, and archaeological data an estimate can be made for the beginning of settlement there.
The archaeological evidence found in Malindi, although rather incomplete supports the contention that Malindi as a town was found in the Thirteenth Century. Jame Kirkman, who spent ten years excavating the Arab town of Gedi, sixteen kilometres south of Malindi, has found in Malindi Yellow and green glazed ware called Sgraffiato which was made in Persia or Modern day Iraq in the early thirteenth century or possibly at the end of the twelfth century.
This thirteenth-century date corresponds not only with the probable founding of Malindi, but also with that of Lamu, Mombasa, and Gedi.Thus, according to this historical and most recent archaeological reports, Malindi was probably founded by Arabs in the early Thirteenth Century
According to Chinese documents, fishing was very significant in Malindi where the dried catch was fed to the stock, mainly horses. The whale was caught and was highly prized because it could be put to many uses: the oil was burned in lamps and when mixed with lime was a good caulking substance; the backbone was used for door-leaves, and the rib for rafters; but the flesh of the whale was never eaten.