McGraw-Hill SocialStudies 2003 Return to Unit List
Great Zimbabwe and the Coastal Cities
Grade 6
Lesson Summary Lesson Summary
Unit 3: New Forces in the World
Chapter 10: African Civilizations
Lesson 4: Great Zimbabwe and the Coastal Cities
City of Stone

To the southeast of west African empires, the powerful city of Great Zimbabwe developed. Historians know very little about this city. The city was surrounded by large granite walls found by archaeologists. It is believed that the walls were created from small pieces of stone cut from much larger rocks. Farmers raised crops and cattle. Archaeologists have determined that Great Zimbabwe developed between 1000 and 1500 by examining the pottery.

Wealth from Trade

Great Zimbabwe was the largest of over 100 stone towns. It was located on a rich gold mine on a trade route and historians believe Zimbabwe rulers gained power by controlling trade in the region. From artifacts, archaeologists have learned that the people of Zimbabwe traded gold with other countries, made gold jewelry, and lived in mud huts within the city. By the late 1400s the people of Great Zimbabwe abandoned the city for unknown reasons. Trade developed along the east coast between 1000 and 1500. The Arab Muslim civilization was called Swahili. Cities such as Mogadishu, Mombasa, and Zanzabar were important trading centers in the region. African gold, leopard skins, and ivory were traded for Asian metal tools, pottery and cloth. The Swahili civilization declined in the 1500s with the arrival of Europeans.