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Inside and outside the dry stone walls: revisiting the material culture of Great Zimbabwe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Shadreck Chirikure
Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7701, South Africa (Email:
Innocent Pikirayi
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Humanities Building, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa (Email:
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‘Any study of Great Zimbabwe has to rely a great deal on re-examining and re-assessing the work of early investigators, the men who removed all the most important finds from the ruins and stripped them of so much of their deposits’ (Garlake 1973: 14). The authors have here done us a great service in reviewing the surviving archaeological evidence from this world famous site. They challenge the structuralist interpretation – in which different parts of the site were allocated to kings, priests, wives or to circumcision rituals – and use the architectural, stratigraphic and artefactual evidence accumulated over the years to present a new sequence. The early enclosures on the hill, the Great Enclosure and the valley enclosures now appear as the work of successive rulers, each founding a new residence and power centre in accord with Shona practice.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 2008


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