Lost Civilizations – Africa: a history Denied

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Lost Civilizations – Africa: A History Denied

There was once a country in Southern Africa called Rhodesia. The indigenous people of the land there were dominated by European invaders, who had justified their claim to the land by asserting falsehoods about the simultaneous arrival of European and native peoples.

Evidence of ancient stone ruins was framed by European archaeologists in such a way as to support a non-indigenous claim to the land. It was reasoned that “Bantus” were incapable of the intelligence required for stone masonry and permanent architecture. Therefore the ancient structures must have been built by a lost European civilisation. Therefore the European claim to the land would extinguish that of the native peoples.

However, the Shona people knew the truth. Their leaders had never lost contact with their ancestors, the true architects of the ancient structures. To this day they still commune with past monarchs through ceremony, and retain the sacred knowledge of their ancient history.

Both sides of the debate around the origins of the ruins centred around colonial cultural assumptions of permanent architecture being an indication of “civilisation”. Does this imply that cultures based on sustainable living in closer relationship with the land are somehow “uncivilised”, as they build more temporary dwellings?

But whatever your position on the nature of “civilisation”, the fact remains that the ruins have since been proven to be of Shona origin, and carbon dating of the site confirms that these indigenous people occupied the land centuries before the arrival of Europeans.

Lost Civilizations – Africa: A History Denied
Watch the Video and Answer the Following Questions:

  1. Who were the first to “arrive” in South Africa: White or Black settlers? How do we know?

  1. Explain Karl Mauch’s theory of who built Great Zimbabwe.

  1. Why was Mauch’s theory so popular with Europeans at the time?

  1. Describe some aspects of the Shona religion.

  1. Explain the theory described in the movie as to why the Swahili people of the East African coast adopted the Islamic faith. Are you convinced by this theory?

  1. “Africa has no history. There is only a history of Europeans in Africa.” Explain why you agree or disagree with this quotation.

Read one of the three alternative source documents regarding the building of Great Zimbabwe. Is the argument convincing? Explain your answer with proof.

Alternate Source #1 - GREAT ZIMBABWE: A History Almost Forgotten
Prof. Manu Ampim

MEANING: The name “Zimbabwe” is variously translated from the Shona language to mean “sacred house,” “venerated houses,” “houses of stone,” “ritual seat of the king,” “court,” or “home or grave of the chief.”

Imba Huru (Great Enclosure wall)

The civilization of Great Zimbabwe was one of the most significant civilizations in the world during the Medieval period. European travelers from Germany, Portugal, and Britain were astonished to learn of this powerful African civilization in the interior of southern Africa. The first European to visit Great Zimbabwe was a German geologist, Carl Mauch, in 1871. Like others before him, Mauch refused to believe that indigenous Africans could have built such an extensive network of monuments made of granite stone. Thus, Mauch assumed that the Great Zimbabwe monuments were created by biblical characters from the north: “I do not think that I am far wrong if I suppose that the ruin on the hill is a copy of Solomon’s Temple on Mount Moriah and the building in the plain a copy of the palace where the Queen of Sheba lived during her visit to Solomon.” Mauch further stated that a “civilized [read: white] nation must once have lived there.”

Later Europeans also speculated that Great Zimbabwe was built by Portuguese travelers, Arabs, Chinese, or Persians. No consideration was given to the possibility of local indigenous Africans having built the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, because European writers generally agreed that Africans did not have the capacity to build anything of significance, particularly not monuments made with skilled stone masonry.
In 1890, British imperialist and colonizer Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902) conquered a large portion of southern African and had the region named after himself. Northern Rhodesia (modern Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) came under British control and Rhodes echoed the theme of Mauch as he argued that the Great Zimbabwe monuments were build by foreigners. To promote his goal of misrepresenting the origins of Zimbabwe, Rhodes established the Ancient Ruins Company and financed men such as James Theodore Bent, who was sent to Zimbabwe by the British Association of Science, and sponsored by Rhodes. After his investigation Bent concluded in his book, Ruined Cities of Mashonaland (1892), that items found within the Great Zimbabwe complex “proved” that the civilization was not build by local Africans.
In 1902, the British continued with their falsification agenda as British archaeologist Richard Hall was hired to investigate the Great Zimbabwe site. Hall asserted in his work, The Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia (1902), that the civilization was built by “more civilized races” than the Africans. He argued that the last phase of Great Zimbabwe was the transitional and “decadent period,” a time when the foreign builders interbred with local Africans. Hall went out of his way to eliminate archeological evidence which would have proven an indigenous African origin of Great Zimbabwe. He removed about two meters deep of archeological remains, which effectively destroyed the evidence that would have established an indigenous African origin of the site. He condescendingly stated that his goal was to “remove the filth and decadence of Kaffir occupation.”
In 1905, soon after Hall’s destructive activity, British archeologist David Randall-MacIver studied the mud dwellings within the stone enclosures, and he became the first European researcher of the site to assert that the dwellings were “unquestionably African in every detail.” After MacIver’s assertion, which was almost equivalent to blasphemy to the British imperialists, archeologists were banned from the Zimbabwe site for almost 25 years!
It was in 1929 that British archeologist Gertrude Caton-Thompson led the first all-female excavation. Caton-Thompson investigated the site and was able to definitively argue in her work, The Zimbabwe Culture: Ruins & Reactions (1931), that the ruins were of African origin. She assessed the available archeological evidence (artifacts, nearby dwellings), and the oral tradition of the modern Shona-speaking people, and compared them to the ancient sites to determine the African foundation of Great Zimbabwe. Despite Caton-Thompson’s conclusive evidence, the myth of a foreign origin of Great Zimbabwe continued for another half a century until Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
Ian Smith was the last major British colonial figure to falsify evidence of Great Zimbabwe’s origin. In November 1965, Smith had established a white minority government that declared its independence from the British homeland government, and thus this colony broke away from Britain to form an independent regime under Smith. Ian Smith became “prime minister” of Southern Rhodesia. He continued the colonial falsification of Great Zimbabwe’s origins by developing a fake history and a policy of making sure that the official guide books for tourists would show images of Africans bowing down to foreign innovators, who allegedly built Great Zimbabwe. It was not until 1980 that the native Zimbabweans overthrew Smith’s minority government and ended the colonial era. In that year, Robert Mugabe became president and the country was renamed “Zimbabwe,” in honor of the Great Zimbabwe civilization of the past.

President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe
This distortion of the history of Zimbabwe has had an enduring legacy. The colonial era (1890 - 1980) had a destructive impact on the daily lives of native Zimbabweans. Not only was their heritage stolen, but the best farmland and resources were also taken by British colonists. This 90 years of domination and oppressive colonial rule was fueled by the ideas of Cecil Rhodes, who had the greatest colonial scheme of any modern imperialist. Rhodes envisioned the British control of Africa from the Cape of Good Hope in the south to Cairo in the north, thus the slogan from “Cape to Cairo.” His goal was to colonize the entire African continent and “to paint the [African] map [British] red.”

Rhodes stated his colonial goals in his 1877 “Confession of Faith”:

“We know the size of the world we know the total extent. Africa is still lying ready for us it is our duty to take it. It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race more of the best the most human, most honourable race the world possesses.”

Unfortunately, despite Rhodes’ disastrous impact on the southern African region, he is buried (as he requested in his Will) in the peaceful area of Matopos National Park in Zimbabwe. The local Ndebele people call this area Malindidzimu (“the place of benevolent spirits”). However, there is a current effort to have Rhodes’ remains removed from the park. In 2004, Zimbabwe is under the control of native Africans, and President Mugabe has instituted a land reform policy to correct the crimes and theft of the past, as the philosophy of “one farmer – one farm” is part of this policy. Nonetheless, this equitable land redistribution program is predictably opposed by imperialists George Bush and Tony Blair, as well as by British settlers such as Ian Smith.

Cape to Cairo” Cecil Rhodes Rhodes’ grave in Matopos National Park



The five Basic Historical Questions (5 BHQs) are a fundamental set of questions that should be used to summarize and analyze a culture or civilization. The answers to these questions put the civilization in historical context and this gives our research structure and meaning.

1. Whe­n Did the Civilization Begin (Time Period)?

The civilization of Great Zimbabwe reached its zenith from 1100–1450 AD, although local Shona-speaking farmers had settled in present-day Zimbabwe nearly a thousand years earlier.

2. Where Was the Civilization Located?

The location of Great Zimbabwe is in south central Africa, in current-day Zimbabwe, between the Zambezi (north) and Limpopo (south) rivers. The Great Zimbabwe site is situated on a high plateau, mostly over 1000 m. (3,250 ft.)

3. Why is the Civilization Important?

The Great Zimbabwe civilization is important for several reasons:

  • The Zimbabwe site, featuring the Great Enclosure wall, is one of the most astounding regions with monuments in Africa, second only to the Nile Valley pyramid region.

The ancient plan of Great Zimbabwe is in two parts: the hill complex and the valley complexes. The hill complex is where the king kept many of his treasures. Although he lived in the Imba Huru (or Great Enclosure) in the valley, he spent considerable ritual time on the hill. Several important enclosures exist within the hill complex. The principles ones are the ritual enclosure, the smelting enclosure and the iron-keeping enclosure.

The valley complexes are dominated by the Imba Huru. The height of the main wall of the Imba Huru is about 32 feet, it is 800 feet long, and utilizes an amazing 15,000 tons of granite blocks. The impressive blocks were constructed without mortar. The building of this complex took skill, determination and industry, and thus the Imba Huru demonstrates a high level of administrative and social achievement by bringing together stone masons and other workers on a grand scale.

  • The extensive trading network made Great Zimbabwe one of the most significant trading regions during the Medieval period. The main trading items were gold, iron, copper, tin, cattle, and also cowrie shells. Imported items included glassware from Syria, a minted coin from Kilwa, Tanzania, and Persian & Chinese ceramics from the 13-14th centuries.

  • Great Zimbabwe was an important commercial and political center. In addition to being in the heart of an extensive commercial and trading network, the site was the center of a powerful political kingdom, which was under a central ruler for about 350 years (1100–1450 AD). The site is estimated to have contained perhaps 18,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest cities of its day. The conclusion is inescapable that Great Zimbabwe had a condensed population sufficient for it to be considered a town, or even a city. However, many Western writers have attempted to reduce the significance of Great Zimbabwe by several methods: by estimating low population numbers (e.g. only 5,000 instead of 18,000 inhabitants); calling the dwellings “huts” instead of homes; calling the areas “villages” instead of towns or cities; and identifying the rulers as “chiefs’ instead of kings. These writers are well aware that smallness means less significance.

Imba Huru (Great Enclosure wall) Conical Structure (inside Imba Huru)
4. How Did the Civilization Begin?

The Great Zimbabwe site was settled around 350 AD by Shona-speaking farmers, who migrated into this elevated plateau region to avoid the tsetse flies, which can kill both people and cattle by causing “sleeping sickness.” The disease trypanosomiasis, or more commonly sleeping sickness, is transmitted by the various species of tsetse flies, which transmit the disease through their saliva. The Great Zimbabwe site was a safe haven high enough to avoid the flies, and this allowed the Shona-speaking migrants to farm and raise their cattle. Eventually, developments led to the formation of the Great Zimbabwe state at the end of the 11th century. Two general theories (technological innovations and intensified trading activities) have been advanced to explain the rise of the Zimbabwe state.

5. How Did the Civilization Decline?

Great Zimbabwe declined and was abandoned around 1450 AD for unknown reasons. The migrants left Zimbabwe and founded the northern kingdom of Monomotapa and other successor states. There has been much speculation about Zimbabwe’s decline as theories of its fall have ranged from over-farming, the population depleting the land resources, a drastic weather change, and a decline in the important gold trade. Further research will have to provide more information on this question.

Much of the wealth which remained at Great Zimbabwe was removed through the centuries by European explorers, treasure hunters, souvenir seekers, and plunderers such as Richard Hall. The site is but a shell of what it once was, as the artifacts were vandalized by these European groups and destroyed or hauled away by them and eventually sent to various museums throughout Europe, America, and South Africa. Today, there are about 20,000 tourists who visit the site each year and they continue to cause additional damage to the ruins, as these tourists climb the walls for thrills and to find souvenirs.


  • Written Sources: There are no primary written documents available regarding Great Zimbabwe.

  • Oral History: The oral history of the local Shona-speaking people is a valuable source of information on Great Zimbabwe, particularly the information this history provides regarding spiritual beliefs and building traditions.

  • Archeological Evidence: Most of the physical evidence of Zimbabwe’s history and significance is derived from archaeological evidence from nearby dwellings, and various items on site such as the trading items, daga homes, granite walls, and soapstone figures of birds (which have become Zimbabwe’s national bird and is part of the national flag). Modern Shona pottery has also been a key source of comparison and documentation.

Soapstone bird figure Imba Huru (Great Enclosure wall)
Additional Sources:

Molefi and Kariamu Asante, “Great Zimbabwe: An Ancient African City-State,” in Blacks in Science (1983), ed. Ivan Van Sertima, pp. 84-91.

Graham Connah, African Civilizations (1987).
Peter Garlake, Great Zimbabwe (1973).
D.T. Niane, ed., General History of Africa, vol. IV: Africa from the 12th to the 16th Century (1984).

Alternate Source #2 - Zimbabwe

Medieval Zimbabwe (Great Zimbabwe) has earned much acclaim for it magnificent and massive stone structures. The structures were so impressive many erroneous stories were dreamed up to deny credit to the black natives; today, though, all scholars agree that the black people of the region with, "no one from the outside world to guide them,"1 developed and built the massive stone castles and walls.

Origins, Government and Economy

Little is known of the origins of Great Zimbabwe, yet we do know that a small number of Iron Age people were living in the Great Zimbabwe by at least the 4th century AD. A significant settlement took place in the 10th or 11th century, and by the 14th century the foundation a powerful kingdom was in place.2

Although gold became the nation's major source of wealth, "Most historians," D.T. Niane notes, "agree that gold was not the origin of the wealth of Zimbabwe," but, like many African cultures, it was, "the considerable development of cattle on the grass plateau which was free of the tsetse fly."

From about the late twelfth century," Peter Garlake tells us, "diversification, expansion, affluence, and a concomitant of these, increased social, economic and functional specialization took place in both cultures so that in the end, entire settlements could, like areas within sites, be built and used for limited functions by certain groups or clusters of people."3 With the expansion of the metal trade and textile production--as demonstrated by the increase of spindle whorls--Zimbabwe became a flourishing feudal state from AD 1250-1750: stretching over 500 miles from the Zambezi River to Transvaal.4

There were some central cities in Great Zimbabwe but most people lived in small villages as farmers or cattle-herders.5



"All serious scholars now perceive Great Zimbabwe as an essentially African development, built of local raw material and according to architectural principles that have endured from the use of these media over many centuries."6
~B.M. Fagan, Oxford Archeologist

The first stonewalls of the region were built in the 13th century. Today over 300 stone walls from medieval times stand in the land of modern Zimbabwe and its surrounding nations. These structures have been lauded as, "very curious and well-constructed," as early as 1501 by the Portuguese de Goes, and as possessing, "exceptionally sophisticated drystone masonry," as studied recently by University of New England Archeologist, Graham Connah.7

The greatest ruins are located in the, "Great Zimbabwe." Great Zimbabwe is a sixty-acre site obtaining two massive stone structures. One, the "Acropolis," is a succession of stone buildings located on a high hill that overlooks a much larger enclosure, called the "elliptical building." The "elliptical building" was likely a royal palace and fort. It is over 300 ft long and 220 ft wide-somewhat larger than a football field.8The wall surrounding the castle is 244 meters long, 10 meters high, and 5 meters thick.9

As noted by Connah, "There was never any doubt about its African origins in the minds of those who real understood the archaeological evidence,"10 Still, ridiculous stories were dreamed up to deny credit to the blacks of the region. The two most popular stories were that Phoenicians built the structures, or they were King Solomon's mines. Even though all the evidence clearly disproved these theories beyond a doubt the public gladly accepted the fictional stories; their misperception of black Africa was of savage cannibalistic spear throwers running around in their underwear--it was too difficult to believe those blacks could have built what they clearly had.

Archeologists were never fooled. On behalf of the British Association as early as 1905, Egyptologist, David Randall MacIver, examined the structures and observed, "whether military or domestic, there is not a trace of Oriental or European style of any period whatever (while) the character of the dwellings contained within the stone ruins, and forming and integral part of them, is unmistakably African…the arts and manufactures exemplified by objects found within the dwellings are typically African, except when the objects are imports of well-known medieval or post-medieval date."11

The style is easily traced to early architecture of the region. "The architecture of Great Zimbabwe," B.M. Fagan, an archeologist from the University of California and Oxford reports, "is a logical extension of the large enclosures and chiefs' quarters which were built of grass, mud and poles in other African states, but merely constructed here in stone….The Great Enclosure itself was divided into a series of smaller enclosures, in which the foundations of substantial pole-and-mud houses are to be seen. It was presumably the dwelling place of the rulers of Great Zimbabwe, an impressive and politically highly significant structure…..With the exception of the conical tower, which is a unique structure of unknown significance there is nothing in Great Zimbabwe architecture which is alien to African practice."12

The Heritage of World Civilization, a book compiled by Harvard and Yale historians, asserts that the, "civilization was a purely African one sited far enough inland never to have felt the impact of Islam."13


Fall of Zimbabwe

In the 1490's much of the kingdom's population was forced to move north due to land exhaustion. The only way the people could have remained would have been through irrigation or artificial fertilization, neither of which could be done in the Savannah woodland near Great Zimbabwe.14 Consequently southern portions of the great state broke off and became independent. The Portuguese' destruction of the Swahili Coast/Inland Africa/ Indian trade, (see Swahili Coast and Fall of Africa) which had been a vital economic function of the region, crippled Zimbabwe's economy. East Africa and Zimbabwe had reached its apogee in the 15th century, but a century later it was mostly destroyed.

Basil Davidson wrote the following passage on Zimbabwe's place in medieval Africa:

"The foundations of Zimbabwe go back to much the same period as the foundations of Ghana. The initial raising of the walls of the, "Acropolis," and the, "elliptical building," was not much later than the time when Mali grew strong, and Timbuktu and Djenne saw their transformation into seats of thought and learning. The miles of careful terracing and the hilltop forts and store-pits and stone dwellings of Niekerk and Inyanga were made while Mohammed Askia and his successors ruled the Western Sudan."15



1Davidson, Basil. The Lost Cities of Africa. Boston: Little Brown, 1959, 281


2Africa from the twelfth to the sixteenth century/ editor, D.T. Niane (London; Heinemann Educational Books; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 533


3Ibid, 533


4Iliffe, John. African: The History of a Continent. Great Britain: University of Cambridge, 1995, 101


5Africa from the twelfth to the sixteenth century/ editor, D.T. Niane (London; Heinemann Educational Books; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 535


6Ibid, 532


7Connah, Graham. African Civilizations. Armidale, N.S.W., Australia: University of New England, 1998, 193


8Davidson, Basil. The Lost Cities of Africa. Boston: Little Brown, 1959, 243


9Ibid, 193


10Connah, 183


11Davidson, Basil. The Lost Cities of Africa. Boston: Little Brown, 1959, 255


12Africa from the twelfth to the sixteenth century/ editor, D.T. Niane (London; Heinemann Educational Books; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 542


13The Heritage of World Civilizations: Volume One: To 1650, 4th ed. Editor, Owen, Cralyce. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Simon & Shuster, 1997, 512


14Africa from the twelfth to the sixteenth century/ editor, D.T. Niane (London; Heinemann Educational Books; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 548


15Davidson, Basil. The Lost Cities of Africa. Boston: Little Brown, 1959, 282


Alternate Source #3 - Mystery of Great Zimbabwe
by Peter Tyson

The first whispered reports of a fabulous stone palace in the heart of southern Africa began dribbling into the coastal trading ports of Mozambique in the 16th century. In his 1552 Da Asia, the most complete chronicle of the Portuguese conquests, João de Barros wrote of "a square fortress, masonry within and without, built of stones of marvelous size, and there appears to be no mortar joining them."

De Barros thought the edifice, which he never saw, was Axuma, one of the cities of the Queen of Sheba. Other Portuguese chroniclers of the day linked the rumored fortress with the region's gold trade and decided it must be the biblical Ophir, from which the Queen of Sheba procured gold for the Temple of Solomon.

This notion persisted for centuries, right up until the monument's 19th-century European "discovery." That distinction fell to a young German named Carl Mauch. In 1871, Mauch, eager to seek for the fabled ruins of Ophir, penetrated deep into what is today southern Zimbabwe. In August, he reached the home of a lone German trader, who told him of "quite large ruins which could never have been built by blacks." On September 5, local Karanga tribesmen led Mauch to the site.

In the midst of a wooded savanna backed by bare granite hills stood a city of stone. Its beautifully coursed walls curved and undulated sinuously over the landscape, blending into the boulder-strewn terrain as if having arisen there naturally. Bearing no mortar, as de Barros had correctly heard, the walls nevertheless reached enormous height, standing as high as 32 feet over the surrounding savanna. Of fully 100 acres of these granite enclosures, not a single one was straight.

Mauch was looking at the greatest pre-Portuguese ruins of sub-Saharan Africa.

The highest of Great Zimbabwe's walls soar 32 feet above the surrounding savanna.


Unfortunately, Mauch, for all his tenacity, was "no thinker," as Peter Garlake, author of the definitive archeological text on Great Zimbabwe, deemed him. And Mauch only boosted the Portuguese theories of three centuries before. The soapstone and iron relics he uncovered told him that a "civilized [read: white] nation must once have lived there." From a lintel, he cut some wood that he described as reddish, scented, and very like the wood of his pencil. Therefore, he concluded, the wood must be cedar from Lebanon and must have been brought by Phoenicians. And therefore, the Great Enclosure—the edifice's most impressive structure, which local Karanga called Mumbahuru, "the house of the great woman"—must have been built by the Queen of Sheba.

As it turns out, Mauch's description of the wood aptly characterizes the African sandalwood, a local hardwood that later visitors also found in the walls of the Great Enclosure. But no one would know that for years.

In the meantime, Mauch's line of reasoning, distinguished as it was by the most purblind logic, perfectly suited Cecil Rhodes, whose British South Africa Company (BSA) occupied Mashonaland in 1890. (Mashonaland lies just to the north of Great Zimbabwe.) Inextricably steeped in his native country's racist views, Rhodes bought into Mauch's take without a second thought. Indeed, on Rhodes' first visit to the site, local Karanga chiefs were told that "the Great Master" had come to see "the ancient temple which once upon a time belonged to white men."

All artifacts that Theodore Bent turned up pointed to an indigenous origin to Great Zimbabwe and its people, but he would have none of it.

Eager to nail down the edifice's exotic origins once and for all, Rhodes and his BSA quickly sponsored an investigation of Great Zimbabwe. They hired one J. Theodore Bent, whose only claim to expertise lay in an antiquarian interest born of travels through the eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. He adhered just as tenaciously as Rhodes to the notion of the city's non-black origin, though to his credit he didn't automatically swallow the link to the Queen of Sheba. (As he set to work at Great Zimbabwe, he later recalled, "the names of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba were on everybody's lips, and have become so distasteful to us that we never expect to hear them again without an involuntary shudder.")

All the artifacts Bent subsequently uncovered screamed "indigenous." Pottery sherds and spindle whorls; spearheads of iron, bronze, and copper; axes, adzes, and hoes; and gold-working equipment such as tuyères and crucibles—all were very similar to household objects used by the local Karanga. Yet Bent, incapable of following where the evidence might lead him, concluded ("a little lamely and nebulously," notes Garlake) that "a prehistoric race built the ruins ... a northern race coming from Arabia ... closely akin to the Phoenician and Egyptian ... and eventually developing into the more civilized races of the ancient world."

Bent was amateurish and narrow-minded but not utterly incompetent. The same could not be said of Richard Nicklin Hall, a local journalist and author of The Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia. In what would prove to be one of the most sickeningly misguided assignments in the history of archeological preservation, the BSA appointed Hall Curator of Great Zimbabwe, with a mandate to undertake "not scientific research but the preservation of the building." Instead, Hall, hell-bent on finally settling the issue of its origins, launched into a full-scale "archeological" investigation. Claiming he was removing the "filth and decadence of the Kaffir occupation," he scoured the site for signs of its white builders, discarding from three to 12 feet of stratified archeological deposits throughout Great Zimbabwe. An archeologist who visited the site shortly after Hall left deemed his fieldwork "reckless blundering ... worse than anything I have ever seen."

Word eventually got back to the BSA of Hall's desecration of southern Africa's greatest archeological treasure, and he was dismissed. But the damage had been done. "Hall's disastrous activities left only vestiges of archeological deposits within the walls," wrote Garlake in his book Great Zimbabwe, "a paucity that was to inhibit all future scientific work."

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