The origin of Malindi town: a case Study of Mambrui

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University of Dar es Salaam
This research is about establishing the origin of Malindi town and is founded on previous research focus of using pottery physical attributes such as decorative motifs to determine the early settlement of coastal towns. In Malindi, earlier studies tended to focus on imported ceramics to explain the origin and early settlement of the town. This focus falls short of sufficient evidence to explain the ancient settlement of this town since it overlooked local pottery despite their abundance in the archaeo-stratigraphic sequences in the region. Early scholars argued that Malindi was a small walled town spreading 600 m along the sea front and 1 km inland. From when the town was studied by Kirkman in 1958 and 1964 and by Wilson in 1980, there has not been any attempt to properly establish its cultural chronology. Recent studies have discovered settlements outside this area leading to the questioning of which part is the origin of this Town. In an attempt to address this problem, excavation was conducted at Mambrui site and comparative data were acquired from previous researches by Kirkman (1958; 1964; 1975), Wilson (1980), Abungu (1994) and Bita (2006; 2008). The work employed analysis of local and imported pottery to investigate relative dates so as to trace and establish the settlement patterns and cultural chronology of Malindi Town. Results demonstrate that Mambrui was settled in the EIW period and thus forms the most ancient settlement of Malindi. This work found settlements outside the study area indicating probably ancient Mambrui covered a larger area and thus recommends further investigation be undertaken in future to establish the spatial spread of ancient Mambrui town.
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Excavations, Archaeology, Malindi, Mambrui, History
Bita, C (2012), The origin of Malindi town: a case Study of Mambrui, master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam (available at