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The oldest archeological findings of human activity around the Ghent area date back to the Stone Age and the Iron Age. The Romans called this settlement "Ganda", which was later Latinised to "Gandavum". During the Middle Ages, Ghent was an important trade city because of its strategic location on a crossroads between Bruges, Cologne, Paris and London. It contained one of Europe's largest cities at that time (about 50 000 inhabitants). The well-preserved city centre still has large parts in medieval style; narrow streets with small houses build from local red brick ("lakenhout" in Dutch) are characteristic for this period everywhere in Flanders. In 1498, Ghent was made capital of a county (the Landgraviate), which would eventually become modern Belgium.