Gede Ruins and Museum
The town of Gedi was a Swahili settlement established in the 13th century town and inhabited by sailors, traders and settlers from Oman who plied the spice trade between the Middle East and Africa. The reason for the secrecy surrounding the existence of Gedi is unknown, and the cause of its downfall also remains a great historical mystery.
The ruins were discovered by British settlers clearing forest in the early 20th century, and progressively the remains of a large, well-established town were uncovered.
Excavations show that from the 14th to 16th centuries, Gedi was a large Arab community with many stone houses with advanced drainage and plumbing, halls, meeting places, a palace and an impressive grand mosque. The inhabitants were clearly great traders and Venetian beads, coins and a Ming vase from China and goods from Europe and India have been found within the ruins.
In the early 16th century, however, an unknown event caused the entire town to be rapidly evacuated and abandoned. It remained undisturbed and nature had the time to re-conquer the place. The ruins at Gedi were rediscovered in the 1920s and gained the status of Historical Monument in 1927. Since then about 18ha of the site have been excavated. The remains of several mosques, a palace, residential houses and elaborate pillar tombs have been revealed. Because it is hidden in deep forest the site is very atmospheric and mysterious.
Some archaeologists believe that the Oromo may have lived in the abandoned stone town into the 17th century, and that “Gedi” was in fact an Oromo name. Regardless, the town was eventually completely deserted and consumed by the forest, becoming one of the great archeological mysteries.
Attraction at Gedi Ruins and Museum
Taking a guided tour through the ruins and the museum will teach you a lot of interesting things about the fascinating culture of the Swahili people and the ancient town they constructed. Additionally, you can walk along the nature trail network which comprises 40 different species of plants and leads to lesser ruins throughout the forest.
Gedi Ruins is also an excellent place to observe wildlife. Forest birds like Turacos, Malachite Kingfishers, Paradise flycatchers and African Harrier Hawks can be seen from the tree platform which was built for the A Rocha’s Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-tourism Scheme (ASSETS) programme.
Currently the Monument is under the care of the National Museums of Kenya and in addition to being very important archaeological site; Gede indigenous forest is a sacred site for traditional rituals and sacrifices for the surrounding community.
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