Middle East

Kilwa Kisiwani Ruins

This UNESCO World Heritage site dates from the first millennium CE, but it was not until the next millennium that Kilwa became a wealthy trading center.  It’s importance lies in its Islamic architecture as well as the growth of Sawhili culture.

Under the Kilwa sultanate the city was an important center of intercontinental trade with the Arabian peninsula along with India and China.  Kilwa’s rulers gained control of the export of African Gold in the late 12th century.

Excavations unearthed unglazed ceramics as well as exotic goods such as Chinese celadon ware and Persian faience.  Kilwa minted its own coins from the 11th to 14th centuries.

Kilwa declined in the late 1300s, and fell after being invaded by the Portuguese in 1505.