Great Zimbabwe Essay

888 words - 4 pages

The earlier city of Zimbabwe, named Great Zimbabwe, should not be confused with present day Zimbabwe. This essay will focus on Great Zimbabwe, which by the way means “the house of rock” in the Shona language. A few disagree about who settled the land, but one theory suggests it was established by Shona farmers attempting to move away from the tsetse flies, which kill livestock and humans. The flies carry and inject their victims with a disease called sleeping sickness. This rationale seems like a reasonable motivation since the flies live in a wide middle section of Africa between two deserts: the Sahara and the Kalahari. This would leave the far northern and far southern areas of the continent for extensive cattle farming. The city was located on a plateau in southern Africa around 1250 to 1550 AD. Great Zimbabwe was located between the Zambezi River and the Limpopo River. The metropolis encompassed about 80 acres with a view of a fertile valley. The valley was a great place to raise domestic animals, because of the lush vegetation. Wild animals found excellent forage there, too. This allowed the population to eat not only their cattle, but undomesticated creatures as well. Even though the living quarters of the people started as simple structures, as the city’s financial wealth increased, new buildings were added and divisions appeared between the wealthy and those doing the work. The Victoria Falls Travel Guide states the Great Zimbabwe ruins were “the largest ancient structure South of the Sahara and second only to the Pyramids of Egypt in size and grandeur.” Great Zimbabwe was a remarkable settlement to research from its ruins, to trade, and its decline.
The ruins of this complex are quite impressive. In 1871, Carl Mauch visited the site and discovered an extensive ruin with stone walls reaching to 32 feet high and between 4 to 17 feet thick. He couldn’t find any walls that were straight, but ascertained that the structures were strong enough to last for quite awhile. Local granite was mined to build the complex, but without using mortar between the rocks. The largest building was in the Great Enclosure; it was elliptical in shape and had a chevron design on it. There were small shelters around it, which may have housed the influential people of the area. This enclosure was situated in the valley. There was also a development of structures located on the hill. The hill structures may have been the residence of some of the kings and nobles during their reign. This hill also contained a cave with sound reverberating qualities that may have sent the requests of a king to his subjects....

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