Great Zimbabwe – A Ruin City in the Heart of Africa
As most of us know, the African continent is the birthplace of humanity and yet we know surprisingly little about its history. It’s home to over one billion people, with a very diverse background of cultures, customs and “treasures” which are yet to be discovered.
Back in a time when European nations were trying to colonize the entire world, archaeologists came across an immense stone complex, roughly 550 km off the eastern African coast, right in the heart of present day Zimbabwe. These European archaeologists immediately assumed that these types of structures could not have possibly been built by the African people themselves and quickly gave credit to others like the Muslims, Persians, Indians or even the Chinese for its construction.
Recent discoveries however, point to the Shona people living in the region. It seems that they were responsible for the Great Zimbabwe site being built around 1100 AD and acting as the Kingdom’s capital for the following 400 years. The word “Zimbabwe” has its roots in an African word which stands for “stone houses”, hinting to the country drawing its name from Great Zimbabwe and not the other way around.
Among its ruins, modern archaeologists have found a copper Muslim coin, linking the Shona Kingdom to the international Indian Ocean Trade. From what little is known, it seems that Great Zimbabwe was a center of much wealth and prosperity, gathering raw materials like wood, ivory, gold and rhino horns to be sent down the Limpopo and Save Rivers, all the way to the coast. From here, these precious commodities would find their way up North, to Arabia or even India and as far away as China.
A city that at one time housed over 25,000 people is now deserted and the causes for its demise are still uncertain. Some blame famine, some political unrest while others say it happened because of the gold mines drying up. Nevertheless, Great Zimbabwe happened and stands today as a testimony for what incredible mysteries Africa still has in store for us.