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Great Zimbabwe

Ruins of a medieval city in southeast Zimbabwe / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Great Zimbabwe is a medieval city in the south-eastern hills of the modern country of Zimbabwe, near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo. It is thought to have been the capital of a great kingdom during the Late Iron Age, about which little is known.[1] Construction on the city began in the 11th century and continued until it was abandoned in the 15th century.[2][3][4] The edifices were erected by ancestors of the Shona people currently located in Zimbabwe and nearby countries.[5] The stone city spans an area of 7.22 square kilometres (2.79 sq mi) and could have housed up to 18,000 people at its peak, giving it a population density of approximately 2,500 inhabitants per square kilometre (6,500/sq mi). It is recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Quick facts: Location, Coordinates, Type, Part of, Ar...
Great Zimbabwe
Tower in the Great Enclosure, Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe is located in Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe
Shown within Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe is located in Africa
Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe (Africa)
LocationMasvingo Province, Zimbabwe
Coordinates20°16′S 30°56′E
Part ofKingdom of Zimbabwe
Area7.22 km2 (2.79 sq mi)
Founded11th century CE
Abandoned15th century CE
PeriodsLate Iron Age
CulturesKingdom of Zimbabwe
Official nameGreat Zimbabwe National Monument
CriteriaCultural: i, iii, vi
Inscription1986 (10th Session)

Great Zimbabwe is believed to have served as a royal palace for the local monarch. As such, it would have been used as the seat of political power. Among the edifice's most prominent features were its walls, some of which are 11 metres (36 ft) high.[5] They were constructed of "dry stone" (that is, without mortar). Eventually, the city was abandoned and fell into ruin.

The earliest document mentioning the Great Zimbabwe ruins was in 1531 by Vicente Pegado, captain of the Portuguese garrison of Sofala on the coast of modern-day Mozambique, who recorded it as Symbaoe. The first confirmed visits by Europeans were in the late 19th century, with investigations of the site starting in 1871.[6] Some later studies of the monument were controversial, as the white government of Rhodesia pressured archeologists to deny its construction by black Africans.[7] Great Zimbabwe has since been adopted as a national monument by the Zimbabwean government, and the modern independent state was named after it.

The word great distinguishes the site from the many smaller ruins, now known as "zimbabwes", spread across the Zimbabwe Highveld.[8] There are 200 such sites in southern Africa, such as Bumbusi in Zimbabwe and Manyikeni in Mozambique, with monumental, mortarless walls.[9]

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