Great Zimbabwe Ruins: Place of the Sun People

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  • Topic: Zimbabwe, Shona language, 2nd millennium
  • Pages : 14 (4372 words )
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  • Published : November 10, 2008
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Known as the place of the 'Sun People', the Great Zimbabwe Ruins have long been attributed to a Lost Civilisation who, according to High Sanusi - Credo Mutwa, were a remnant of a sophisticated seafaring civilization.

Lying in the interior of tropical southern Africa are hundreds of stone ruins Zimbabwe has the greatest concentration of prehistoric rock art in the world; fine paintings of animals and people in everyday life, ritual and myth, are scattered about the granite formations that pepper the country, seen most easily at Matopos Hills. The stone ruins from the ancient states that once held domain on this great plateau – Great Zimbabwe is just the best known of several hundred complexes. The largest of them, situated near Masvingo (previously called Fort Victoria), were known in the 16th century as Symbaoe; later they were called the Zimbabwe Ruins. They consist of a fortress on a hill, nicknamed the Acropolis, and an elliptical "temple" now referred to as Great Zimbabwe. All buildings were unroofed, and were constructed using dry-stone walling techniques, i.e. without any cement or mortar, meaning that the granite bricks had to be carefully shaped and trimmed so as to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The Great Zimbabwe Ruins are some of the largest and most ancient structures in sub-Saharan Africa. Estimates are that the city housed as many as 18,000 inhabitants at its peak. Built entirely of stone, the main ruins span more than 7km2. Its all in the name …

In the first theory, the word "Zimbabwe" could be a short form for "ziimba remabwe" or "ziimba rebwe", a Shona (dialect: chiKaranga) term, which means "the great or big house built of stone boulders". In the Karanga dialect of the Shona language, "imba" means "a house" or "a building" and "ziimba", or "zimba", mean "a huge/big building or house". The word "bwe" or "ibwe" (singular, plural being "mabwe") in the Karanga dialect means "a stone boulder". Thus, a linguistic analysis of the word "Zimbabwe" clearly indicates that the origin of the word refers to the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe whose huge buildings were built of stone boulders. The Karanga-speaking Shona people are found around Great Zimbabwe in the modern-day province of Masvingo and have been known to have inhabited the region since the building of this ancient city.

A second theory is that Zimbabwe is a contracted form of "dzimba woye" which means "venerated houses" in the Zezuru dialect of the Shona language. This term is usually reserved for chiefs' houses or graves. It should also be noted that the Zezuru-speaking Shona people are found to the North-East of Great Zimbabwe, some 500 km away.

A third theory is that Zimbabwe comes from the Shona "dzimba dza mabwe" meaning houses of stone, referring to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe Human culture goes back tens of thousands of years. Prehistoric contacts with southeast Africa

It is beyond dispute that the Indian Ocean, including much of its African coastline, has been travelled for two thousand years or more. For instance, there is a record of Phoenicians circumnavigating Africa in about 600 BC. Evidence that a mass migration from the East Indies to Madagascar took place many centuries ago is provided by the relationship between Malay and a main language of that island. Arab traders were visiting Zanzibar and Dar-es-Salaam before the beginning of the Christian era, and around 60 AD the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (in Greek) was compiled as a guide to East African, Arab and Indian sailors. In particular, it has been argued that the "Fire Islands" mentioned there, could well have been the volcanic Comoro group, because they are placed at the entrance to the "Channel". The description in the Periplus continues further southwards, although names of rivers and harbours can no longer be identified with certainty. The gold of ancient Zimbabwe

Many thousands of prehistoric gold-workings are scattered round the former...
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