This Iron Age site, the symbol modern Zimbabwe took its name from, lies 17 miles from Masvingo and is the remains of an extensive town built around 1200 AD. The word 'Zimbabwe' is derived from Shona words that mean 'houses of stone' or 'venerated house'. Zimbabwe developed into an empire covering over 1000 square miles. Evidence at Great Zimbabwe, like Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) pottery from China, indicates that the empire had extensive trade.
The two main areas of stone wall enclosures are: the Hill Complex, on the long, steep-sided granite hill that rises 260 feet above the surrounding ground; and the land below this hill where the Valley Enclosures and the Great Enclosure are situated. The stone walls, up to 20 feet thick and 36 feet high, are built of granite blocks without the use of mortar. Two high walls form the narrow parallel passage, 180 feet long, that allows direct access to the Conical Tower. The great material wealth of Great Zimbabwe may have been its downfall. After its discovery in the 1870s European adventurers arrived in droves. The rumour started that Zimbabwe was the legendary "Land of Ophir", the source of King Solomon's gold.
The name Zimbabwe is in Bantu and means "House of Stone". Bantu is one of the languages that they spoke in Zimbabwe. However the name “House of Stone" was put to the place because of the stone ruins found there that spread on 200 square miles. These ruins are the oldest and greatest in Sub Saharan Africa. They are all made out of stone. Zimbawe was built from the 12th century to the 15th century.
In the 16th century the Portuguese came and started controlling the trades and everything. Inhabitants were mostly Bantu farmers, cattle raisers from West Africa. Bantu people began to come about 2,000 years ago including the Shona that are officially the people from Zimbabwe. Now the Shona are four fifths of the country's population. In the 10th century Zimbabwe began to develop. Zimbabwe is located inland from the southeastern coast of Africa. The Sabi River ran through the south part of Zimbabwe. The Mazoe and Zambezi rivers were north. The Zambezi is the fourth longest river. Zimbabwe was developed on a hilltop that was protected from invasion by a large crop of granite.
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Most of the empire was on a high plateau, it was safe from diseases such as tsetse flies that were common close to water. The rain was good for farming. Zimbabwe could be mined for granite, iron, copper, and gold. The Mutapa’s rulers had a tradition of building structures made out of stone.
'The Jewish Talmud', also contains oblique references to the story, as well the New Testament where Sheba is referred to as "The Queen of the South." There is, in addition, a fairly detailed account in the Koran, echoed in several Arabic and Persian folk tales of later date, (in which she is known as Bilqis).
Further afield, in southern enigmatic stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe are said by the local Mashona people to have been the palace of the Queen of Sheba, and tribal elders still repeat their own fully evolved version of the legend. In addition, the Yoruba of West Africa also claimed to have the Staff of Queen of Sheeba in Ile Ife.
The Europeans could not believe that the African "savages" could build in stone.
Zimbabwe did have extensive copper and gold mines, and may well have been the Biblical source of Temple Gold.
Not much is left of anything since the diggers, looters, and "shoot the niggers on sight" murders have come and gone.
Long after the buildings and cathedrals of Europe have fallen, the Great Tower will still stand as a testimony to a long dead civilization.
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