Great Zimbabwe The word "Zimbabwe" is thought to be derived from a Shona phrase meaning "stone enclosure" or "house of rock. It's not the name of a dance club or a new band. It's actually a translation of the Shona word, "Zimbabwe. Sixty acres of immense stone ruins comprise the city and tell the story of the people who created and resided in it some years ago.
For a long time, many Westerners argued that such amazing structures could not have been crafted in Africa without European influence or assistance. These notions reflect ethnocentrism, or the tendency to view one's own culture as the best and others as inferior.
With the help of modern dating techniques, today's archaeologists have been able to disprove these arguments and expose the truth. Africans, and Africans alone, were responsible for building this astounding and complex city.
Shona Settlement The first inhabitants of Great Zimbabwe were Shona-speaking peoples who likely settled in the region as early as C.
Back then, the land was full of possibilities: It was fine place for the Shona to call home. Over the years, descendants of the Shona made transitions from simple farming communities to more complex, stratified societies. Cattle were very desirable and actually more valuable than most of the workers.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous In response to the changing social, political, and economic landscape, new buildings were gradually built. Tremendous stone houses were constructed by the peasants for their kings.
Sophisticated workplaces were designed for conducting trades such as blacksmithing. The buildings were made of heavy granite blocks, stacked tightly together. Stones were arranged carefully, and no mortar was used to seal them together. The largest and most impressive building was an elliptical structure known today as the Great or Western Enclosure. The remains of its outer wall measure over feet long and up to 32 feet high.
Europeans destroyed most of them. We only have a few drawings and descriptions by travelers who visited the places before their destruction. In some places, ruins are still visible. You can get more info about PD Lawton work by visiting her blog: Hullpublished in We begin with Benin City. When you enter into it, you go into a great broad street, not paved, which seems to be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes street in Amsterdam…The Kings palace is a collection of buildings which occupy as much space as the town of Harlem, and which is enclosed with walls.
They are supported by wooden pillars encased with copper, where their victories are depicted, and which are carefully kept very clean. The town is composed of thirty main streets, very straight and feet wide, apart from an infinity of small intersecting streets. The houses are close to one another, arranged in good order. These people are in no way inferior to the Dutch as regards cleanliness; they wash and scrub their houses so well that they are polished and shining like a looking glass.
There was a vast system of defensive walling totalling 10, miles in all. Even before the full extent of the city walling had become apparent the Guinness Book of Records carried an entry in the edition that described the city as: Benvenuto Cellini could not have cast them better, nor could anyone else before or after him.
Technically, these bronzes represent the very highest possible achievement. The city was looted, blown up and burnt to the ground. They cover square kilometres and were all dug by the Edo people.
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In all, they are four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. They took an estimated million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.
Wikipedia, Architecture of Africa. Here is a view of Benin city in before the British conquest. Today, Timbuktu is times smaller than London.
Its population is two times less than 5 centuries ago, impoverished with beggars and dirty street sellers. The town itself is incapable of conserving its past ruined monuments and archives.
From all 3 the only one which was still independent and prosperous was the Mali Empire. At the time of his death inMansa Musa was worth the equivalent of billion dollars. Here below are some depictions of emperor Mansa Musa. When Mansa Musa went on a pilgrimage to Mecca inhe carried so much gold, and spent them so lavishly that the price of gold fell for ten years. Witnesses of the greatness of the Mali empire came from all part of the world. At the height of its power, Mali had at least cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated.
National Geographic recently described Timbuktu as the Paris of the mediaeval world, on account of its intellectual culture. According to Professor Henry Louis Gates, 25, university students studied there.
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The Mauritanian cities of Chinguetti and Oudane have a total of 3, hand written mediaeval books. There may be another 6, books still surviving in the other city of Walata.
Some date back to the 8th century AD. There are 11, books in private collections in Niger. In Timbuktu today, there are aboutsurviving books. The contents of the manuscripts include math, medicine, poetry, law and astronomy. A collection of one thousand six hundred books was considered a small library for a West African scholar of the 16th century. Professor Ahmed Baba of Timbuktu is recorded as saying that he had the smallest library of any of his friends — he had only volumes.
They date back hundreds of years. Its convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more than their counterparts in Europe. In the fifteenth century in Timbuktu the mathematicians knew about the rotation of the planets, knew about the details of the eclipse, they knew things which we had to wait for almost years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it.
It was an surmounted by a dome, adorned with arabesques of striking colours.
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The windows of an upper floor were plated with wood and framed in silver; those of a lower floor were plated with wood, framed in gold. Malian sailors got to America in AD, years before Columbus. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in Here below are some depiction of the city of Timbuktu in the 19th century.
Drawings of life in Kumasi show homes, often of 2 stories, square buildings with thatched roofs, with family compounds arranged around a courtyard.
A tree always stood in the courtyard which was the central point of a family compound. The Tree of Life was the altar for family offerings to God, Nyame. A brass pan sat in the branches of the tree into which offerings were placed. This was the same in every courtyard of every household, temple and palace.
The purpose being that everyone was welcome to see what they were up to. This city in the s is documented in drawings and photographs.
But the part of the palace fronting the street was a stone house, Moorish in its style. It was built by Fanti masons many years ago. The rooms upstairs remind me of Wardour Street. Each was a perfect Old Curiosity Shop. Books in many languages, Bohemian glass, clocks, silver plate, old furniture, Persian rugs, Kidderminster carpets, pictures and engravings, numberless chests and coffers.
A copy of the Times, 17 October With these were many specimens of Moorish and Ashanti handicraft. Here below are few depictions of the city. Kilwa dates back to the 9th century and was at its peak in the 13th and 14th centuries.
This international African port minted its own currency in the 11th th centuries. Remains of artefacts link it to Spain, China, Arabia and India. The inhabitants, architects and founders of this city were not Arabs and the only influence the Europeans had in the form of the Portuguese was to mark the start of decline, most likely through smallpox and influenza.
Behind the king stand ten pages holding shields and swords decorated with gold, and on his right are the sons of the kings of his country wearing splendid garments and their hair plaited with gold. The governor of the city sits on the ground before the king and around him are ministers seated likewise. At the door of the pavilion are dogs of excellent pedigree that hardly ever leave the place where the king is, guarding him.
Around their necks they wear collars of gold and silver studded with a number of balls of the same metals. Hopkins Here below are few depictions of Ghana Empire. And the condition of the countries of the eastern coast-mozambique, for example-was quite the same.
It was situated in the region of Northern Angola and West Kongo. Its population was conservatively estimated at 2 or 3 million people. The country was fivided into 6 administrative provinces and a number of dependancies. The dependancies included Matari, Wamdo, Wembo and the province of Mbundu.
All in turn were subject to the authority of The Mani Kongo King. The capital of the country Mbanza Kongowas in the Mpemba province. From the province of Mbamba, the military stronghold. It was possible to putin the field. That prosperity continued, despite the European slavery ravages, till the 17th and 18th century.