Great Zimbabwe Term Paper

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GREAT ZIMBABWE

This article which I have chosen to read, is about a ruined city of southeast Zimbabwe south of Harare. Great Zimbabwe is an ancient city on the plateau in sub-Saharan Africa. Great Zimbabwe was supposedly a city that controlled much trade and culture of southern Africa during the 12th and 17th centuries because it was stationed on the shortest route between the northern gold fields, and the Indian Ocean. Archaeologists believed that this masterful stonework was built somewhere around 1100 and 1600 A.D.

Great Zimbabwe covers 1,779 acres and is made up of 3 main structures. The first one is the Hill Complex; Hill Complex is the oldest part of the site. The hill was approximately 262 feet high. This enables inhabitants to view enemies from up the hill. Below the Hill Complex is the Great Enclosure, or Elliptical Building. The most dazzling structures of Great Zimbabwe are found here. It s thought to have been the royal palace at that time. Between these two large structures is the Valley Ruins. The youngest walls are found here. Some archaeologists deemed that it might have been the area s control access, for that the wall enables people to walk in single file only. Great Zimbabwe has been designed to change its periphery as the city s population grew due to the fact that it wasn t constructed around a central plan. Despite that the size has made Great Zimbabwe remarkable, another main factor is its stonework. Many of the structures were made of blocks cut from granite. The city s name comes from the Shona term dzimbabwe, meaning houses of stone.

And, like may other ancient cities, Great Zimbabwe has been concealed by legend. Many people told myths about Great Zimbabwe. But, it wasn t until the late 1800s when archaeological record became severely damaged an almost not decodable; when Europeans were attracted by the myth of abundant gold from King Solomon s mines found in the Great Zimbabwe.

The first European to arrive to Great Zimbabwe was a German explorer named Karl Mauch, in 1871. It was Mauch s friend, Adam Render, who was also German and was living in the tribe of Chief Pika, that has lead him to Great Zimbabwe. When Mauch first saw the ruins, he abruptly concluded that Great Zimbabwe wasn t erected by Africans. He felt that the handiwork was too delicate and the people who constructed this showed they were way too civilized to have been the work of Africans. He concluded that it was the work of Phoenician or Israelite settlers; for that a sample of wood from a lintel supporter smelled exactly like his pencil. Thus, proves that it was cedar and could ve come from Lebanon.

After Mauch came, a crew of people working for W.G. Neal of the Ancient Ruins Company followed; the leader of the company was Neal. Cecil Rhodes, who was the founder of the British South Africa Company, financially supported Neal to explore Rhodesian ruins. This was a great opportunity to learn about Rhodesian ruins, however, Neal and his comrades were not really going after knowledge. They, instead, robbed Great Zimbabwe and other Iron Age sites. As well as destroying structures and throwing invaluable stuff which true archaeologists can use to understand more about the people who had lived in Great Zimbabwe. In 1902, Neal wrote a report stating that the architecture was clearly Phoenician or Arabian.

Another serious attack on Great Zimbabwe ruins was in 1891, when James Theodore Bent from Britain, the 1st official archaeologists, visited Great Zimbabwe and started digging around. Thus, destroyed many stratigraphy; which results confusion that made it harder for later archeologists to find the age of Great Zimbabwe. Bent s crew finally proposed that a bastard race--- race, in which white invaders from the north married the Africans--- had constructed it.

In 1905, David Randall-Maclver, an Egyptologist, reasoned that native Africans were the ones who constructed Great Zimbabwe. For that artifacts unearthed were similar to the ones being used by Shona, or Karanga, people living nearby, stonework was not Arabic because it was not arranged in the pattern Arabs do, and Arab beads found dated no older than 14th or 15th century.

Many other researchers believed in the same thing. However, most European settlers in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, rejected this theory. From 1965, until the independence of Rhodesia from England in 1980, Rhodesian Front inspected all books and materials available on Great Zimbabwe to prevent Africans from gaining power. Archaeologists who were held the believe that Africans were the founders of Great Zimbabwe were imprisoned and some were even deported. In addition, Rhodesian Front also prohibits locals to use Great Zimbabwe for any ceremonies.

Today, people are now finally able to get information about Great Zimbabwe. Though there re still some difficulty studying these ruins, because of past mistakes people have had made. And, that sub-Saharan countries are not really wealthy to spend much money on archaeology. But, archaeologists will reclaim the cultural clue that has survived.

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