Thirty kilometers southeast of Masvingo lay the complex of ruins known as Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Zimbabwe is a word derived from ‘dzimbahwe’, a Shona word that means “great stone building”. This is how the modern country Zimbabwe got its name.
The Great Zimbabwe Ruins are located beautifully in a lush and flourishing valley situated at the head of the Mutirikwi River. Studies and investigations done by numerous archaeologists reveal that this valley and the hill that dominates it where most of the ruins are located were inhabited by various tribes from an early period.
The early men dwelled inside the caves found there and by the fourth century, the Gokomore ethnic group, which was evidently the first people of the Iron Age, stumbled upon the place and uncovered the advantage of the land in the Mutirikwi Valley. It was a haven of fecundity in the rough country of Africa, with lovely zephyrs gusting across the valley producing a soft and healthy atmosphere, making it a very suitable place for a king. Because the hill dominated the valley and was easy to defend, it is not surprising that the first Iron Age people became deeply attracted to it.
The hill became overcrowded because it was inhabited by so many people over the years. The people then formed walls by piling up granite rocks and stuffing the insides with rubble. These walls served as platforms that allowed building sites to be obtained. Then, the traditional African huts with walls made of mud were built on the level surface.
Evidence suggests that the king, the soldiers, and the priests of Mwari stayed on the hill while the queen and the majority of the people dwelled in the valley. An impressive and particularly huge stone wall surrounded the king’s residence.
Ironically, the immense wealth of Great Zimbabwe was also its downfall because after it was discovered in the 1870s, adventurers from Europe began arriving in droves. There were even rumors up to now that Zimbabwe is the “land of Ophir” where King Solomon acquired tons of gold.