Just about 10 miles south of Malindi, lies one of the most pre-historic sites in Kenya. Although there is no hard evidence, the town is believed to have been founded in the late 13th century and most of its buildings still stand strong to date. Gedi was perhaps the most prosperous town in this coastal region of Kenya and the advanced nature of settlement will certainly dazzle you and leave you wondering how people in the past managed to develop a town in such a way. Still standing today are a great many coral-brick houses, a palace, and a stunning mosque, indicating that most inhabitants of this town were Muslims. It was inhabited by a few thousand Swahili people and ruled by a very rich Sultan.
Since the rediscovery of this ancient town in the 1920s, Gedi has been the most intensely excavated and studied the pre-historic site and through careful preservation, most of the original foundations can still be found today. Archaeologists have found Ming Chinese vases, beads, coins, Venetian glass as well as other artifacts from all over the world, a clear indication that the inhabitants of this town traded heavily with diverse cultures outside their own and created an incredible town.
This historic town had two walls around it that were probably used to maintain social barriers – the inner wall was where the rich lived, the outer wall had houses for the middle class, and outside the walls was where the peasants lived. All of the surviving buildings at Gedi are those that were constructed using coral stones extracted from the Indian Ocean. Within the inner wall, there are two mosques, a palace, four large houses, and four large pillar walls. This wall also encloses four other houses and three other mosques.
Immediately beyond the outer wall, there is one mosque. A walk through the Ruins of Gedi will show you that the town was an advanced one, with running water, flushing toilets, and well-organized streets laid out in a grid pattern that connected different parts of the town. 50 meters deep well, which is still perceptible, is believed to have provided water that was majorly used for ablutions before undertaking prayers.
Though once a prosperous Swahili city that hosted an advanced and affluent population, the town was mysteriously forsaken in the early 17th century, and the mystery as to why and how it was abandoned still remains unsolved.