Kenya Has Its Own Machu Picchu—the Lost Town of Gedi
In the 13th century, a town in Kenya flourished with advanced city planning (including sewage and water systems) and prolific trade. Then its inhabitants vanished without a trace.
The ruins of an ancient town deep in the Kenyan forest have befuddled archaeologists and historians for decades. There is virtually no written record of Gedi, but the artifacts and infrastructure ruins that remain prove it once hosted an advanced and prosperous civilization of around 2,500 people before it was mysteriously deserted in the 17th century.
Founded in the late 13th century, Gedi shows evidence of having been a global hub for traders from around the globe. Remnants of Ming Dynasty Chinese pottery and a necklace made of Venetian beads have been unearthed, along with an iron lamp from India and a pair of Spanish scissors. These goods were probably exchanged with Gedi inhabitants for animal skins and ivory.
The jungle-ensconced ruins were long part of local folklore, but Gedi wasn’t discovered until 1927. The town was brought to public attention by British explorer Sir John Cook 50 years prior, but officials didn’t follow up on his tip. Excavation finally began in the late 1930’s but continued more seriously after the area was declared a national park in 1948.