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Great Zimbabwe is a walled city entirely made out of stone. The walls, built from granite blocks, are over 30 feet high and contain over 15,000 tons of stone.
Great Zimbabwe was first discovered by Portuguese explorers, two of whom wrote in their journals about their discoveries. In the 1800s, Europeans read the explorers' journals. Most Europeans didn't think that there was really a walled city made out of stone in Africa. Some of them wondered if this city was part of a lost civilization from ancient times. A few people started searching for it in hopes of adventure and finding treasure.
In 1871, Karl Mauch searched for the walled city between the Limpopo and Zambesi Rivers. He found it on a tall hill. The whole structure was made of stone slabs, one on top of another, with no mortar! Karl Mauch thought that the Phoenicians, not the Africans, built the great walled city, because the Phoenicians had made stone cities in the Near East.
When Mauch went back to Europe, he told the Europeans and Americans about his findings. Many people went to Great Zimbabwe and dug there, using bad archaeological techniques and damaging the ruins. In 1902, the government there finally put a stop to it by passing laws. For the next forty years, only archaeologists were allowed to dig.
The archaeologists who excavated at Great
Zimbabwe figured out from the artifacts they dug up that the city was
made by the Shona, a native people to Africa.