The Zimbabwe Culture: Ruins and Reactions


IT is believed that Miss Caton-Thompson's admirable survey of this problem will finally lay to rest a controversy which has now continued for more than thirty years; in fact, it may be flippantly described as ‘the great Zimbabwe myth’, and few in England will credit the heat which this discussion engendered. An idea sprang up, soon after the discovery of the ruins by the Rhodesian pioneers, that they were of immense age, and the opinion grew that Rhodesia was the great source of the alleged wealth of the Sabaeans, the ruins being the remains of a fortress designed to protect the gold trade; others, for some reason, claimed that they were built by Phoenician traders. These theories were encouraged by Bent, who explored the ruins about 1891, and to some extent by Hall and Neal, who did further work there about 1901. The pronouncements of these investigators appealed to a public in South Africa who revelled in the romantic atmosphere, which was fully exploited by journalistic pens. In fact, the fervour evoked was so great that anyone who was bold enough to express doubt was looked upon as a terrible iconoclast, if not worse.

The Zimbabwe Culture: Ruins and Reactions.

G. Caton-Thompson. Pp. xxiv + 299 + 74 plates. (Oxford: Clarendon Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1931.) 25s. net.

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H., C. The Zimbabwe Culture: Ruins and Reactions . Nature 127, 884–886 (1931).

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