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Great Zimbabwe Ruins

Ooops this was on the way to Bulawayo...DOH!

So after posting the last entry we realized that the Great Zimbabwe Ruins were before Bert's Paradise and Thom's Birthday. The day before, so one of those really long drives was actually this day that I am about to recall. Then Thom's B-day and Bulawayo then Rhinos... Ok now that we got that straight with the only people who it probably matters to (Thom and I) let's check out some ruins!!!

Welcome to Zimbabwe!

Zimbabwe is the Shona name of the ruins.
The word Zimbabwe consists of two key root words, -mba- which means house; and -bwe, which means stone. The word therefore means "House of Stone".

We stop at the entrance and have a bush lunch before meeting our guide. First we head to the museum because it is the first thing to close. The area is beautiful.

Here we learn about the history and construction of the ruins. Construction of the stone buildings started in the 11th century and continued for over 300 years. The ruins at Great Zimbabwe are some of the oldest and largest structures located in Southern Africa. It is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The most important artifacts recovered from the Monument are the eight Zimbabwe Birds. We were not allowed to take a picture of them but I found this online so you can at least see what I am speaking of.

The iconic stone carved Zimbabwe Bird is an emblem of Zimbabwe. It has appeared on the national flags and coats of arms for Zimbabwe and previously Rhodesia as well as on banknotes, coins and stamps. The original birds, carved from soapstone in a unique and distinctive style once stood proudly on guard atop the walls and monoliths of the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe. When the ruins of Great Zimbabwe were excavated by treasure-hunters in the late nineteenth century eight carvings of soapstone birds were unearthed. One bird was sent to Cecil Rhodes at his Groot Schuur home in Cape Town and, somewhat controversially, still remains there. This is the only bird not currently in Zimbabwe.

Great Zimbabwe was built and occupied between the 12th and 15th centuries.

At the peak of its power and prosperity in the 13th and 14th centuries, the town was the largest settlement in southern Africa. The builders of Great Zimbabwe were the Karanga, from which descend the Shona, who constitute a majority of the population of Zimbabwe today. The town’s landscape was dominated by imposing dry stonewalls forming enclosures and in certain areas terraces and platforms. The ruins form three distinct architectural groups. They are known as the Hill Complex, the Valley Complex and the Great Enclosure.


So from here we headed up the mountain to the Hill Complex.

Up Ya go!


The views were beautiful!

And we even saw a tiger....Even though I thought they were from Asia!
This is cool Aussie Nancy and this is only one reason why I love this chick!

We made it!

Notable features of the Hill Complex include the Eastern Enclosure, in which it is thought the Zimbabwe Birds stood, a high balcony enclosure overlooking the Eastern Enclosure, and a huge boulder in a shape similar to that of the Zimbabwe Bird.



The Hill Complex was probably always the main spiritual and religious center of Great Zimbabwe. The hill complex is also where the king kept many of his treasures. He could also look out onto his land from up high.




This place was cool.
It was where you could look out and see the "kingdom"
And the King could yell down and you get a fantastic echo back!

Down we Go... The sun is starting to set!

Watch Out for the GIzillion Baboons!

Valley Enclosures

It has been estimated that there were about 50 households within these stone wall enclosures.

The archaeological evidence suggests that these were the homes of the more important people, while most of the population lived in huts set close together on the periphery of the enclosures. The population for the whole of Great Zimbabwe during its heyday is estimated at between 10 000 and 18 000. Within the Valley Enclosures are the remains of dhaka huts, platforms and small towers.

The Great Enclosure: This is the largest single ancient structure south of the Sahara.

The perimeter wall is 820 feet in circumference and 36 feet high, and it is estimated that nearly a million granite blocks were used in its construction. The roughly oval-shaped structure encloses an area 262 feet by 180 feet and contains a number of stone features, including the Conical Tower.


The inner wall of this passage was originally built as the perimeter wall; the massive outer wall was constructed later, surmounted by monoliths and decorated with two courses of chevron pattern high up on the external face in the area of the Conical Tower.


Well that was it for now...you know what happens next in Bulawayo already....so next post is Rhinos for sure!

Posted by Kelly Rose 15:44 Archived in Zimbabwe Tagged zimbabwe great_zimbabwe_ruins

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A cut above your previous entry, this one is much more enjoyable for certain. What history lessons you have learned in all of your journeys, things to pass on to the "masses at home". You are looking good. But we will be happy to have you on US soil. Love, Mom and Dad

by Mom and Dad McLaughlin

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