Background information / subject knowledge for teacher
Great Zimbabwe, or ‘houses of stone’, is the name given to
hundreds of great stone ruins spread out over a 500 sq km (200 sq
mi) area within the modern-day country of Zimbabwe, which itself
is named after the ruins.
The ruins can be broken down into three distinct architectural
groups. They are known as the Hill Complex, the Valley Complex
and the famous Great Enclosure. Over 300 structures have been
located so far in the Great Enclosure. The types of stone structures
found on the site give an indication of the status of the citizenry.
Structures that were more elaborate were built for the kings and
situated further away from the centre of the city. It is thought that
this was done in order to escape sleeping sickness.
What little evidence exists suggests that Great Zimbabwe also
became a centre for trading, with artefacts suggesting that the city
formed part of a trade network extending as far as China. Chinese
pottery shards, coins from Arabia, glass beads and other non-local
items have been excavated at Zimbabwe.
Nobody knows for sure why the site was eventually abandoned.
Perhaps it was due to drought, perhaps due to disease or it simply
Using different forms of evidence in history: Resources page 1
could be that the decline in the gold trade forced the people who
inhabited Great Zimbabwe to look elsewhere.
The ruins of Great Zimbabwe have been a UNESCO World Heritage
Site since 1986.
Adapted from: Wikipedia, Website
Using different forms of evidence in history: Resources page 2