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Matobo Hills

ZimbabweMatabeleland & Victoria FallsBulawayo


Matobo Hills 

The Matobo Hills, 35 kilometers south of Bulawayo, are a smattering of unusual granite landforms that rise up to form a sea of hills, densely packed into a comparatively small space. Their shapes are the result of the granite rocks' varying composition and alignment, which responded differently to millions of years of weathering. In both natural and cultural terms, these magnificent granite rock formations have had a tremendous influence on the entire area.

For millennia, people have interacted with and been inspired by the stunning natural rock formations of the Matobo Hills. This interaction has resulted in one of southern Africa's most impressive rock art collections, as well as strong religious beliefs that continue to play an important role in contemporary local society. It also demonstrates an almost continuous relationship between man and his environment over the past 100,000 years.

The Matobo Hills have one of the largest concentrations of 13,000-year-old rock art in Southern Africa. The paintings depict changing creative techniques as well as social and religious views. The whole offers witness to a thriving cultural tradition that has now vanished.

The abundance of evidence from archaeology and rock art at Matobo indicates that the Matobo Hills have been inhabited for at least 500,000 years. Furthermore, this data paints a complete picture of foraging cultures in the Stone Age, as well as how agricultural societies eventually displaced them in the Iron Age.

The most powerful oracular tradition in southern Africa is the Mwari religion, which is being practiced in the area and may date back to the Iron Age. The Matobo rocks are thought to be the home of gods and ancestral spirits. Within the hills, there are sacred sites where one can make contact with the spiritual realm.

The shrines' living traditions are one of the most strong intangible traditions in southern Africa, and one that could be said to have universal importance. This is a collective rather than individual response to a landscape. Matobo's natural attributes, such as the strength of the rocks and the produce from the surrounding natural environment, have deep cultural connections.

The Matobo Hills were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

(Source UNESCO)


  • ZimbabweMatabeleland & Victoria FallsBulawayo

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