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History at Great Zimbabwe - Essay Example

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David Beach's goal is to present the origin of the Great Zimbabwe's history through political views and plans. He presented the theories based on different collaborations of different authors and archaeologist in the past. He produced assumptions on the symbols gathered by archaeologist in the 16th century.
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Cognitive Archaeology and Imaginary History at Great Zimbabwe Cognitive Archaeology: Brief definition
"Is the study of prehistory ideology, that is to say the ideals, values, and beliefs that constitute a society's world view." (Huffman 1984)
Author's Goal
David Beach's goal is to present the origin of the Great Zimbabwe's history through political views and plans. He presented the theories based on different collaborations of different authors and archaeologist in the past. He produced assumptions on the symbols gathered by archaeologist in the 16th century.
The symbols such as "Venda" and "Shona" are used to clearly explain well how political civilization in Great Zimbabwe starts. It showed the separation of men and women based on geographical maps on entrances and how do they categorized "royals" from the typical worker in the society.
However, I should say, Beach's presentation of early civilization and how the Great Zimbabwe started in the 16th century dealt with deeper level of understanding. Based on the theories and studies, the author is stating that the Great Zimbabwe is politically static community showing generational dynastic activities.

Archaeological References
The Author used Huffman's archaeological study on Portuguese documents using the "Shona" as oral traditions and the Venda Anthropology to explain well the mysterious developments on Great Zimbabwe. These traditions were based on the early ruins of the civilization and the modern Shona cultures to clearly explain the connections, evidences and origins of how it started.
Mutapa Oral Traditions were also brought up as the author believed that it is where state formation came from and manifested for three centuries giving details on different socio-political plans of the Great Zimbabwe. It was then also considering that Mutapas lived on the high house wherein seen to be the "rulers" of the early civilization.
"Snakes" and "Birds" were cited by the author referring on different geographical representation of people within the community and the hierarchy of the so-called "rulers". Though, presented with inconsistencies on each arguments still "oral traditions" has been a reliable assumptions on Great Zimbabwe over the 600 years.
"The Great Enclosure" was used to state the different symbols relating to male and female. How they are categorized based on the community entrances and how those leads in the communities are located in terms of status - political and marital.
"Dare" was also used to represent the community as a "meeting place" for the rulers, wives and servants. This meeting place was set up in a way that it was placed at the base of the hill.
David Beach's assumptions were based on the work of Huffman - an archaeologist. Beach's point of views based only on one work that Huffman's presented thereby needing more study prior to making a concrete explanation of one thing. This should be supported well enough by different studies and thereby making it more credible and to reduce arguments and inconsistencies.
I find the chapter not convincing enough regarding early civilization in Great Zimbabwe as the chapter's presented different inconsistencies leading to confusion on the reader's part. If a reader is only looking for informative chapter this is a good chapter to get information from but if a reader is looking for arguments and bright ideas I suggest not. Just like with the comments of other professors and/or authors across the globe, the author - David Beach; should have read the other books of Thomas Huffman to make a concrete and a credible chapter. Likewise, the chapter was presented with so many jargons which definitions are unclear and confusing.
Beach, David "Cognitive Archaeology and Imaginary History at Great Zimbabwe." Current Anthropology. Volume 39: The University Chicago Press, 1998. 47-72. Read More
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