Saturday, January 8, 2011

Great Zimbabwe - Home for the King

The speaking platform overlooking the courtyard

The King's home on the hill.
The following morning we headed off through Zimbabwe to the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe. During the 11th century, this was the greatest medieval city in all of sub-Saharan Africa. This particular site is what gave Zimbabwe its name – “Great Stone House”. Approaching the hillside, you are impressed with the mammoth size of the city that once stood up here. The king and perhaps his main queen (they had many wives in quite a complicated system of inheritance) and the primary “important” people appeared to have lived up here.
Our Guide sitting in the cave
 The approaches were often very narrow or steep – all the better to thwart attacks on the “palace”. We climbed to the top of a natural bridge where the king once stood to hold court. People would stand below in a large open area so that they could see and hear what he had to say. Further on there was a cave with amazing acoustics. You could sit in the cave, speak with a relatively normal voice, and be heard across the country. The king could use this location to address the common people assembled on the plains below or, heheh, to call for a different wife for a given night (the women lived across the way…we’ll get there in a bit).

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