Ruined City of Greater Zimbabwe (World Heritage)

By | December 16, 2022

The ruined city of Greater Zimbabwe is the largest pre-colonial stone structure south of the Sahara. The settlement was discovered in 1871 by the German Africa explorer Karl Mauch. The monumental city complex, which is surrounded by a 10 m high wall, was built between the 11th and 15th centuries and was probably the center of the former Monomotapa empire. Check clothingexpress for information about Harare, Zimbabwe.

Ruined City of Greater Zimbabwe: Facts

Official title: Ruined city of Greater Zimbabwe
Cultural monument: according to legend, the capital of the Queen of Sheba; Ruined city of about 7 km² with the so-called Hill Complex, an almost oval area of ​​about 98×44 m on a granite hill as well as the so-called Valley and Great Enclosures; Great Enclosure the largest stone structure south of the Sahara, built from around one million granite stones, with a circumference of around 246 m and a height of more than 10 m, in this the around 10 m high conical tower, which is 4, Measures 8 m; Valley Enclosure Home of an estimated 50 households
Continent: Africa
Country: Zimbabwe
Location: Great Zimbabwe National Monument, southeast of Masvingo
Appointment: 1988
Meaning: Largest building complex in Africa from pre-colonial times and evidence of the medieval Shona culture

Ruined City of Greater Zimbabwe: History

around 1200-1450 Great Zimbabwe
1871 “Discovery” of the ruined city by Karl Mauch
1890-1910 Destruction of archaeological traces by treasure hunters and amateur archaeologists
1905/06 Research by archaeologist David Randall MacIver
1932 systematic excavations and dating, finds of pottery from the Ming dynasty (1384-1644)

“A bird of God” in the gold country of the Queen of Sheba

In a seemingly endless tree savannah with massive granite hills rise imposing walls, ramparts, battlements made of seamlessly piled stone slabs – ruins of a medieval city. The word “secret” has surrounded these sites for as long as they have been known, as no one can say with any certainty who put this enormous ensemble in the African bush.

“Goldland Ophir”, “King Solomon’s Mines”, “Palace of the Queen of Sheba” – there was no shortage of bold explanations. Arab and Portuguese travelers reported of a magnificent city made of stone and a fortress in the middle of gold mines, over which a powerful king ruled in the heart of Africa. The name “Simbáoé” was on everyone’s lips, and maps from the sixteenth century localized it fairly accurately. Israelites, Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Babylonians were considered as builders; The Bible was also supposed to explain the origin of the most imposing stone structure south of the Sahara. Only from Africans – explorers and colonizers alike agreed on this point up to modern times – these walls, erected without mortar, could not have come from.

Today it is assumed that a group of the Shona, called Karanga, who settled between Limpopo and the Zambezi, built the “dzimba dza mabwe” – “houses made of stone” in the Shona language. It was the residence of the kings of a great empire that gave the present-day state its name: in Zimbabwe, “birds of God” were found carved from soapstone, which are the symbol of the country today.

Once they crouched like standards over the high, up to five meters thick walls on the hills of Greater Zimbabwe. The birds, which are more than 500 years old, and the conical tower as the center of the enormous elliptical structure are impressive, but hardly fit into the image of a continent devoid of culture and history, as the Europeans drew it for centuries.

The Swabian Karl Mauch, who was the first European to “discover” and describe the ruins in detail in 1871, firmly believed that he had entered the “gold country of the Queen of Sheba” and that the wood he found came from cedars from Lebanon. Generations of amateur archaeologists and gold-seeking adventurers after him made serious archaeological work difficult. Only at the beginning of the 20th century did analyzes show that earlier ideas about the builder belong in the realm of fairy tales. Radiocarbon studies made it possible to date them precisely, so that it can be assumed with certainty that the majestic buildings were built between the 13th and 15th centuries. But unanswered questions remained: Who had lived here? Why did the empire fall apart?

Cattle breeders who knew how to process iron ore were the first to settle here. In the course of their progressive sedentarism they developed a structured social order, at the head of which stood a king. As the creator of mankind, they worshiped the god Mwari, and Great Zimbabwe was developed by them into a religious center and a royal residence, in which officials and notables lived alongside the royal family. The hill (“Acropolis”) was the residence of the king (“mambo”), the widely visible symbol of the power of the Karanga. Greater Zimbabwe is likely to have inhabited up to 18,000 people during its heyday. Cattle were kept as a symbol of wealth and an important source of food. If one proceeds from the few finds of grinding tools, then the cultivation of grain should have been little developed, even if grain must have been present, otherwise the findings of vessels for brewing beer could not be explained. It was above all the processing of gold, copper and iron and extensive trade that made Greater Zimbabwe rich, whose decline at the end of the 15th century is still a mystery. The most plausible explanation so far: The growing population could no longer be fed from the region, so that dispute ensued and neighboring kingdoms used the power vacuum that had arisen to expand their own area of ​​rule.

Ruined City of Greater Zimbabwe (World Heritage)