THE GREAT ZIMBABWE EMPIRE 1400 (H4)
xxxxxThe region between the Zambesi and Limpopo rivers in south-
xxxxxThe first sign of human development in the region between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers in south-
xxxxxThe first development appears to have been a number of stone-
xxxxxThis great inland empire, possibly with a population of 18,000 at its peak, was largely supported by trade. Copper and gold were mined locally, and these minerals, together with ivory, were valuable barter in dealing with the East African traders working along the coast of Mozambique. These traders would bring goods from the Middle East and as far away as south-
xxxxxThe empire reached the height of its prosperity around 1400 under a line of kings known as the Mwene Mutapa (meaning “Ravager of Nations”). Later in the century, however, becoming too large for its own upkeep, it began to decline. As we shall see, around 1450 (H6) it eventually broke up into two kingdoms and, with the arrival of the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, much of the original area came under their authority as a vassal or colonial state.
xxxxxIncidentally, the modern state of Zimbabwe, formed in 1980 and formerly known as Southern Rhodesia, takes its name from the extensive stone ruins of the empire which once flourished in the area, and the national emblem is a bird representing the soapstone figures of fish eagles found on the site. The ruins of this former empire were rediscovered in 1867 and attracted much archaeological interest.
xxxxxThe East African traders began doing business in about 900 AD. Basing their activities on the city ports of Somalia, Mozambique and Zanzibar, they locked onto the highly developed trading routes established world-
Great Enclosure : contained in The Literature and Culture of Zimbabwe by George P. Landow, currently professor of English and Art History at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Illustration kindly made available for non-