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The Architecture of Great Zimbabwe

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Michele Horner

on 10 April 2014

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Transcript of The Architecture of Great Zimbabwe

Valley Complex
housed regular citizens as opposed to the elite or royalty
The Great Zimbabwe Empire was located in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Today, the architectural structures of Great Zimbabwe are regarded as a mystery.
There were 3 main components of the architectural structure of Great Zimbabwe:
The Great Enclosure
The Architecture of Great Zimbabwe
The Great Zimbabwe Empire lasted from the 11th to 15th century.
Complex stone ruins of the empire remain today.
Great Zimbabwe was a Bantu speaking empire, and its inhabitants were most likely descendants of the modern day Shona people.
The construction of the empire began in the 11th century and spanned a period of 300 years.
The word Zimbabwe means "stone dwelling" in the Shona language.
The Valley Complex
The Hill Complex
The Great Enclosure
Hill Complex
The soapstone bird is represented on the flag of Great Zimbabwe.
The walls of the Great Enclosure were up to 36 feet high and 850 feet long.
The walls were built using granite found in nearby hills and no mortar. They layered the stones sometimes in patterns, fitting them tightly together without gaps to build strong walls.
Its confines housed mostly upper classes, including royalty.
The Great Enclosure is considered the largest ancient structure south of the Saharan Desert.
Its internal structures consisted of:

The walls are thought to represent high status, as well as function for defense.
The Conical Tower was built to represent a grain bin and symbolize good harvest and prosperity.
The tower was an important structure and one of the last structures to be built in the Great Enclosure.
-a narrow passage along the interior of the main wall.
-a royal enclosure
-a communal area
-huts as living quarters
-storage for items such as gold and weapons
-a gold workshop
-a sacred shrine
-possibly an astronomy observatory
oldest site- occupied from the 9th to 13th centuries
built on a 262 foot hill
huts found made from mud bricks called "daga" blocks
Great Zimbabwe was settled between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers.
Around the area were many resources such as granite blocks which were used in building.
The Great Enclosure was occupied from the 13th to 15th century.
occupied from the 14th to 15th century
8 sculptures of the Zimbabwe bird have been found at this site- commonly referred to as the "soapstone birds". They were likely installed on walls of the eastern enclosure of the hill complex and on monoliths the height of a person. They are considered a sign of royal presence.
divided into upper and lower valley ruins
religious and spiritual center of the empire
The Royals of Great Zimbabwe may have stored their treasures and wealth at this site.
formerly known as The Acropolis
Decline and Influence
In 1450 AD, the Great Zimbabwe empire declined due to decrease in trade, political instability, famine, and water shortage.
The stone working and pottery ideas and techniques established by Great Zimbabwe spread south to the Khami Empire after Great Zimbabwe's end.
When the ruins were discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century, Europeans were amazed by the extremely advanced building techniques displayed in the structures.
The Great Enclosure is believed to have sustained a population of up to 300 members from the elite class.
by Michele Horner
Full transcript