Swahili architecture

Swahili Architecture

Swahili architecture

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Swahili architecture is a style of building along the eastern and southeastern coasts of Africa. Though essentially of Arabic or Persian style and origin; archaeological, written, linguistic, and cultural evidence also suggests strong African influence and sustainment. There is evidence of enduring Arabic and Islamic influence in the form of trade, inter-marriage, and an exchange of ideas. Archaeologist Felix Chami notes the presence of Bantu settlements along the East African coast as early as the beginning of the 1st millennium. They evolved gradually from the 6th century onward to accommodate for an increase in trade, population growth, and further centralized urbanization. Architectural elements included arches, courtyards, isolated women's quarters, the mihrab, towers, and decorative elements on the buildings themselves. The ruins at Great Zimbabwe show some similarities to this coastal style, and also to ancient Madagascan elements such as the 'phallic' tower and the perimeter wall. Many ruins may also still be observed near the southern Kenyan port of Malindi in the ruins of Gedi (the lost city of Gede/Gedi).


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