Great Zimbabwe

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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).

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References in periodicals archive ?
He is currently a lecturer in Communication Skills at Great Zimbabwe University.
Great Zimbabwe University was chosen to implement this programme given its rich history and niche in culture and heritage.
They built stone forts extending into the interior at one day's march from each other, with the final one being the complex now known as Great Zimbabwe. To service the coastal trade a town called Sofala was established at the mouth of the Sofala river on the east coast.
Kadodo, Webster (Mr), Mobile (+263) 0776294721 & (+263) 0712939677, E-Mail Kadodoweb@Yahoo.Com & Kadodotakweb@Cooltoad.Com Lecturer: English, Great Zimbabwe University, Department Of Curriculum Studies, Box 1235, Masvingo, Zimbabwe, Africa
Western critics contended that the Africans could not have possessed the skills to construct the dry-stone edifices, to smelt the gold, to curve the sculpture, and to mould the pottery that had been uncovered at the site of the Great Zimbabwe ruins. Great Zimbabwe University Masvingo, Zimbabwe
The Dzimbabwe people are under one headman and are a group which is linked to the Karanga village which was responsible for appeasing ancestors in the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.
Zimbabwe is keen to develop its southern circuit - from Harare to the Eastern Highlands, Great Zimbabwe and Gonarezhou National Park - which would also relieve pressure on the Victoria Falls area.
The name Zimbabwe is derived from the Shona phrase, dzimba dzemabwe, meaning houses of stone or stone buildings which are symbolized by the Great Zimbabwe ruins near the present day town of Masvingo.
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