Great Zimbabwe

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Related to Great Zimbabwe: Queen of Sheba, Mapungubwe

Great Zimbabwe

(zĭmbäb`wā) [Bantu,=stone houses], ruined city, SE Zimbabwe, near Masvingo (formerly Fort Victoria). Its mortarless, curving granite walls and buildings were constructed in 11th–15th cent. by an African people or peoples, most likely the Shona. The city was an influential regional center with a population ranging from 10,000 to as much as 20,000, located on trade routes that reached to the Mozambique coast. The remaining ruins include the Hill Complex, the oldest portion, whose stone walls incorporate boulders; the Great Enclosure, the outer stone walls of which rise as much as 36 ft (11 m); and the Valley Complex, which is marked by the remains of mud-brick dwellings, the most recent of which date to the 19th cent. Mud-brick structural remains are also found in the Hill Complex and Great Enclosure. The granite walls were once richly decorated with stone carvings and gold and copper ornaments.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the site was first occupied by Iron Age peoples in the 3d cent. It was abandoned sometime thereafter until it was reoccupied in the late 9th cent. or early 10th cent. After Great Zimbabwe was discovered by European explorers c.1870 (there may have been Portuguese visitors as early as the 16th cent.), some Europeans asserted it was the biblical OphirOphir
, in the Bible. 1 Seaport or region from which the ships of Solomon brought fine gold in great quantity. Sandalwood, precious stones, ivory, apes, and peacocks were also part of the triennial cargo. The location of Ophir is unknown.
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, where King Solomon had his mines. Others assigned its construction to Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs, Chinese, Persians, or other non-African peoples. From 1890 to 1900 some 100,000 gold mining claims—all barren—were staked out there, and the ruins were extensively plundered by Europeans in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


See G. Caton-Thompson, The Zimbabwe Culture (1970).

References in periodicals archive ?
One of the latter, contributed by Innocent Pikirayi, provides a history of the study of Great Zimbabwe, putting the Bents' work and legacy into context.
For an unforgettable vacation in Africa, book Great Zimbabwe (11-day, 10-night land only*, from $2,680 per person/double occupancy).
During the colonial era, Europeans defended white-supremacist ideas by arguing -- wrongly -- that Africans could not have built advanced civilizations such as the massive citadel of stone houses called Great Zimbabwe.
00pm) Gus Casely-Hayford examines the history of Great Zimbabwe, a collection of ruined stone buildings scattered across the Zimbabwe highveld.
Designed to depict Great Zimbabwe, a settlement of stone structures built by the local people in the 11th Century (now ruins and a UNESCO heritage site), this fabulous lodge is found within the protected Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve.
Simon Muzenda is a descendent of the great Rozvi dynasties of the moyo/moyondizvo who are reputed to have ruled over precolonial Zimbabwe and built the legendary Great Zimbabwe monuments.
The results also date a drought in AD 1300 thought to have made a Bantu society vulnerable to invasion from Great Zimbabwe.
50pm, will examine the discovery of the lost African civilisation of Great Zimbabwe in the 19th Century, and why it proved so controversial at the time.
She was part of the all-woman expedition that proved that The Great Zimbabwe was built by native Africans.
Over the next two decades, Parfitt traveled from Israel to Egypt, Ethiopia and the ruins of Great Zimbabwe in search of the ngoma and its secrets.
This relationship between safety and conflict resurfaces in the photograph The Great Zimbabwe, which shows a narrow passageway alongside the tower of a fortress.
The 'house of stone' refers to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, a symbol for Mugabe's Zimbabwe.