Riddle of Great Zimbabwe
by Roderick J. Mcintosh
"When Portuguese traders first encountered the vast stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe in the sixteenth century, they believed they had found the fabled capital of the Queen of Sheba. Later travelers surmised that the site's impressive stone structures were the work of Egyptians, Phoenicians, or even Prester John, the legendary Christian king of lands beyond the Islamic realm. Such misguided and romantic speculation held for nearly 400 years, until the excavations of British archaeologists David Randall-MacIver and Gertrude Caton-Thompson early in this century, which confirmed that the ruins were of African origin."
"The largest ancient stone construction south of the Sahara, Great Zimbabwe was built between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries by the ancestors of the Shona, one of Zimbabwe's many Bantu-speaking groups. The ruins cover nearly 1,800 acres and can be divided into three distinct architectural groupings known as the Hill Complex, the Valley Complex, and the Great Enclosure. At its apogee in the late fourteenth century, Great Zimbabwe may have had as many as 18,000 inhabitants. It was one of some 300 known stone enclosure sites on the Zimbabwe Plateau. In Bantu, zimbabwe means "sacred house" or "ritual seat of a king." An important trading center and capital of the medieval Zimbabwe state, the city controlled much of interior southeast Africa for nearly two centuries."
"Given the sheer scale of Great Zimbabwe compared to its precursors, archaeologists have been at a loss to explain its sudden appearance on the southern African landscape. Interpretation of the site poses a particular problem because it was stripped of nearly all its in situ cultural material during the nineteenth century by treasure seekers and those who, believing the site to be of foreign construction, wished, in the words of turn-of-the-century excavator Keith M. Hall, "to free it from the filth and decadence of the Kaffir [South African] occupation."
Any thoughts on the origins or the purpose Great Zimbabwe?
Edited by Fula - 25-May-2012 at 10:01