Great Enclosure, Great Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe; eleventh to fifteenth centuries

Great Zimbabwe, the seat of power of the Shona people, was for a time the largest and most prosperous city in Africa south of the Sahara. Its ruins are extensive and impressive; they gave their name to the modern nation of Zimbabwe, and a stone carving of a bird found at the site appears on the country’s flag.

The name Zimbabwe, which clearly postdates the settlement, means ‘stone houses’, and there were enough of them to shelter up to 10,000 people, maybe more, which would have made it a significant city anywhere in the pre-modern world. It grew until it overstretched ...

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