Attractions - The Great Zimbabwe

The Great Zimbabwe Ruins
The Great Zimbabwe Ruins (sometimes just called Great Zimbabwe) are sub-Saharan Africa's most important and largest stone ruins. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1986, the large towers and structures were built out of millions of stones balanced perfectly on top of one another without the aid of mortar. Great Zimbabwe gave modern Zimbabwe its name as well as its national emblem -- an eagle carved stylishly out of soapstone which was found at the ruins. The Rise of Great Zimbabwe: The Great Zimbabwe society is believed to have become increasingly influential during the 11th Century. The Swahili, the Portuguese and Arabs who were sailing down the Mozambique coast began trading porcelain, cloth and glass with the Great Zimbabwe people in return for gold and ivory. As the Great Zimbabwe people flourished, they built an empire whose huge stone buildings which eventually spread over 200 square miles (500 km2). It is thought that as many as 18,000 people lived here during its heyday.

The Fall of Great Zimbabwe: By the 15th Century, Great Zimbabwe was in decline due to over population, disease and political discord. By the time the Portuguese arrived in search of rumoured cities built of gold, Great Zimbabwe had already fallen into ruin.

Recent History of Great Zimbabwe: During colonial times when white supremacy was in vogue, many believed that Great Zimbabwe couldn't possibly have been built by black Africans. Theories were bandied around; some believed that Great Zimbabwe was built by Phoenicians or Arabs. Others believed white-settlers must have built the structures. It wasn't until 1929 that archaeologist Gertrude Caton-Thompson categorically proved that Great Zimbabwe was built by black-Africans. Nowadays, various tribes in the region claim that Great Zimbabwe was built by their ancestors. Archaeologists generally agree that the Lemba tribe is most likely responsible.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
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