Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17


Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016

suggested it was built by Portuguese travellers, Arabs, Chinese or

Persians. Another theory was that the site could have been the work of a

southern African tribe of ancient Jewish heritage, the Lemba.

Adding to the mystery, the indigenous people living around the site were

said to believe it was the work of demons, or aliens, on account of its

impressive size and the perfection of its workmanship.

In 1905, however, the British archaeologist David Randall-MacIver concluded

the ruins were medieval, and built by one or more of the local African Bantu

peoples. His findings were confirmed by another British archaeologist,

Gertrude Caton-Thompson, in 1929, and this remains the consensus today. In

the language of the builders’ descendents, the Shona people who live in the

region today, Zimbabwe means “big stone houses” or “venerated houses”.


The city’s buildings were made of impressive granite walls, embellished

with turrets, towers, decorations and elegantly sculpted stairways. The

most notable of the buildings, an enclosure 250 metres in circumference

and 9.75 metres high, was crafted with 900,000 pieces of professionally

sliced granite blocks, laid on each other without any binders. Its perimeter

columns were decorated with soapstone sculptures of a silhouetted bird

with human lips and five-fingered feet.

More than 4,000 gold and 500 copper mines were found around the

site, and it was suggested that for three centuries, 40% of the world’s

total mined gold came from the area, compounding to an estimated 600

tonnes of gold. Thousands of necklaces made of gold lamé have been

discovered among the ruins.


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