The Zimbabwe Bird. Image credit MediaWiki

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: Great Zimbabwe state (Kingdom): Social organisation of the Great Zimbabwe State

  • During its first stages of development, the state was egalitarian
  • However with population growth and expansion social classes emerged with the ruling classes exploiting the lower classes
  • The ruling class lived luxurious lives and ate lots of beef and beer
  • They wore imported cloth with their women wearing beautiful jewelry
  • The ruling class lived in expensive houses which were built by those in the lower classes and they lived separately from the lower classes
  • The ruling class lived in the Great Enclosure while the lower classes settled in the valley
  • However despite social differentiation the state put more importance on courage, industry and vision as compared to heredity
  • This meant that those in lower class but with special trade skills such as iron-smithing, hunting among others were afforded the chance to show off their skills
  • Pottery making was considered and important social activity and was usually done by women
  • Pottery was used to express the quality of life people were leading and their level of development
  • The people of Great Zimbabwe were also soapstone carvers and the stone was readily available in the state
  • Some of the carved items discovered by archaeologists include 8 Hungwe birds which was their totem

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.