Fostat was the first capital of Egypt under Arab rule. Built in 641, the city reached its peak in the twelfth century, with a population of approximately 200,000. Fostat was the center of administrative power in Egypt until its vizier ordered it burned in 1168 in order to keep its wealth out of the hands of the invading Crusaders.
The remains of the city were eventually absorbed by nearby Cairo. Numerous archaeological excavations in Fostat have revealed the wealth of its buried material. The Fostat middens are an important source evidencing the sizeable Middle East–China trade. Tons of ceramic potsherds have been harvested from this old rubbish dump.
While the vast majority are Islamic, many Chinese potsherds have also been recovered. The discovery of North Vietnamese blue-and-white stonewares documents that Vietnam wares were also part of this China–Middle East trade.