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Khami Ruins National Monument

ZimbabweMatabeleland & Victoria Falls


Khami Ruins National Monument 

This national monument lies 22 kilometers west of Bulawayo, on the banks of the Khami River. The property, which spans about 2 kilometers from the Passage Ruin to the North Ruin and is located on a 1300 m hilltop downstream from a dam built in 1928-1929, has an area of roughly 108 acres.

The Torwa dynasty developed from the collapse of the Great Zimbabwe Kingdom between 1450 and 1650, and was abandoned during the Ndebele raids of the nineteenth century. It is made up of a complicated succession of platforms with dry-stone walled constructions that resemble a later stage of Stone Age society. The chief's home (Mambo) was on the Hill Ruin site, with its associated farming terraces, to the north. The people lived in cobwork daga houses, which were encircled by granite walls.

These buildings have a high level of craftsmanship, numerous tiny corridors and perambulatory galleries, and remarkable chevron and chequered wall designs. In certain archaeological and architectural characteristics, Khami is similar to Great Zimbabwe, but it has elements unique to it and its successors, such as Danangombe and Zinjanja. Revetments or retaining walls found expression for the first time in the architectural history of the sub-region at Khami, and with it were elaborate decorations; it still has the longest decorated wall in the entire sub-region.

The site's architecture and archaeological artifacts provide evidence for a unique knowledge of early civilizations that were strong and cohesive. They also include information on the property's complicated socioeconomic, theological, and spiritual significance for local populations, as well as the wider chronological evolution of Zimbabwean tradition, beginning in Mapungubwe (South Africa), and continuing through the rise of later states.

The archaeological remains are also evidence of long-distance historic trade links with the Portuguese and the rest of the world, with a diverse range of imported artefacts demonstrating 15th and 17th century Spanish porcelain, Rhineland stoneware, and Ming porcelain, many of which are on display at Bulawayo's Museum of Natural History. There is also a massive granite cross that depicts missionary encounters at a historically treasured and sacred spiritual spot.

Khami is Zimbabwe's second-largest stone-built monument. Its historical significance stems from its location at the crossroads of Great Zimbabwe's and later Zimbabwe's histories. It is one of the few sites in Zimbabwe that has not been desecrated by treasure hunters, and its undisturbed stratigraphy is scientifically significant in offering a better understanding of the country's past. The climate encourages open woodland vegetation, which is dominated by Combretum and Terminalia trees.

Due to its proximity to the Kalahari Desert, the area is prone to droughts, and rainfall varies greatly. Variations in temperature, ground water, tourism, encroaching vegetation, and applied preservation measures have all contributed to partial destruction of the site.

The Khami Ruins National Monument was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.

(Source UNESCO)


  • ZimbabweMatabeleland & Victoria Falls

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