Great Zimbabwe

(redirected from Zimbabwe ruins)
Also found in: Dictionary.
Related to Zimbabwe ruins: Great Zimbabwe

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.
..... Click the link for more information.
, 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
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. However, the village was destroyed by the police due to unknown reasons.
The study recommends that the government assist in preserving the dress language of the Dzimbabwe people which is linked to the history of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins since they are attached to the ritual ceremonies which remind the people of Zimbabwe of their history.
Another example in this regard is when the Great Zimbabwe ruins were first brought to the attention of the Western world in the 19th century.
A Zimbabwean state-run newspaper mentioned that "the tourists can then top it all by flaunting their slim bodies on a sun-downer cruise on the Zambezi or surveying the majestic Great Zimbabwe ruins."
Zimbabwe, the resilient House of Stone, became for some "the Zimbabwe Ruins." The coming of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2009 ushered in an era of renewed optimism.
Five such places are the Rainbow Towers (formerly Sheraton Hotel) and Miekles, both in Harare; Troutbeck Inn near Nyanga in the northeast, the Leopard Rock in the Bvumba Mountains near the northeast border with Mozambique, and the Ancient City, a lovely place aptly situated behind the Great Zimbabwe ruins in Masvingo.

Full browser ?