Great Zimbabwe: Highly Advanced Ancient Structures Of Africa Built In 11th Century


Great Zimbabwe is a ruin of an ancient city located on an area of 720 hectares in the southern Sahara Desert. The site comprises the oldest stone structures where according to historians, around 10,000 people used to live. Until now, it is unclear how such complex stone structures were erected in the place where the majority of the ancient buildings were made of wood and clay. Also, why would somebody build such structures around these mud huts?

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Great Zimbabwe
The Great Zimbabwe complex, south-central Zimbabwe

In the 16th century, Portuguese traders told stories about the ruins of ancient goldmines in southern Africa. There were rumors that the ruins of an ancient place, full of gold, belonged to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. Later, the Portuguese missionary João dos Santos associated Great Zimbabwe with the mines of King Solomon from the mythical country of Ophir.

However, the Portuguese themselves never found the Biblical Ophir. The Dutch, who settled in South Africa in the 17th century, did not succeed in it, and they were particularly looking for stone ruins. And only in 1867, the German geologist named Karl Mauch visited Great Zimbabwe. In his report, he wrote that the complex stone structures had actually been built to replicate the palace of the Queen of Sheba in Jerusalem.

ruins of Great Zimbabwe
Aerial view of the ruins of Great Zimbabwe

The site was originally dated to around the 12th century BC. It was believed that the city had existed for about three centuries, after which it was abandoned by its inhabitants for unknown reasons.

Later, in 1905, British archaeologist David Randall-MacIver began his excavations on the territory of Great Zimbabwe and came to the conclusion that the site is much older than it was estimated by the previous archaeologists. He also refuted the version given by Mauch that it belonged to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. He estimated that the erection began in the 11th century.

ancient ruins of great zimbabweThere is no doubt that many cultures existed on the territory of southern Africa, some of which reached a relatively high level of development, allowing them to establish external political and economic ties. The objects found on the ruins of an ancient site confirm it.

“More than 4,000 gold and 500 copper mines were found around the site, and thousands of gold necklaces have been discovered among the ruins.”

The mines are located near the stone structures and have been considered abandoned since the 15th century. The artifacts found there belong to the Arab and Persian cultures.

ancient stone complexesBritish archaeologist Roger Summers, who explored the South African mines in 1958, generally concluded that the methods of mining the ore probably came from India.

In addition, the site is built of cut stone blocks of identical size, laid without mortar. This unique thing about Great Zimbabwe makes it special because none of the popular cultures of the region was distinguished by such construction methods.

Shona people, an ethnic group native to Southern Africa, believe that Great Zimbabwe was built by their ancestors. Despite this fact, European discoverers could hardly imagine such a thing.

ancient african civilizationFor example, when Karl Mauch first arrived here, he was confident that these structures had been built by the white people. The reason behind it simple: during that time, there was an opinion in the whole of Europe that the black people were only capable of primitive labor and did not have any opportunities to organize and implement such a large-scale construction.

Great Zimbabwe is the best example that in ancient times, African civilizations were highly advanced. The site has three narrow entrances inside and surrounded by a 250-meter long wall.

One of the most interesting buildings of Great Zimbabwe that is still in good shape is a cone-shaped tower 9 meters high. Like many other archaeological sites, Great Zimbabwe has not been fully explored, as it still hides many secrets.


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