This large region is primarily rural and agricultural with several large coastal cities populated predominantly by Arabic traders. Elaborate mosques and palaces reflect the Islamic influence in the use of barrel vaulting and ornate decorative motifs on doors and windows. In the area that is now Zimbabwe, traditions of monumental stone architecture initiated by the Great Zimbabwe culture continue on a smaller scale. Beginning in the ninth century, trade networks link East Africa to Asia and the Middle East. This period is marked by first encounters with Europeans, primarily Portuguese traders, and subsequent struggles for control over the Indian Ocean trade networks. One site of this confrontation is the region south of the Zambezi River in present-day Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe, where routes carrying precious metals and ivory to the coast are dominated by the emergent Mutapa state in the 1500s. In Ethiopia, the Early Solomonic period is one of intense scholarly and artistic production, including manuscripts, architecture, and panel paintings for the Orthodox Christian Church.