By Martin Hall

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Mapungubwe began to decline as Great Zimbabwe's fortunes rose. Great Zimbabwe was not an isolated urban center. It was the largest of 3 0 or 40 regional centers scattered across the plateau from the Kalahari Desert in the west and to the Indian Ocean lowlands in the east. Most of these centers shared Great Found in the ruins of Mapungubwe, the kingdom that dominated the Limpopo River valley before Great Zimbabwe, this golden rhinoceros was most likely an emblem of royal power. To the Shona of modern Zimbabwe the rhinoceros is still a symbol of leadership.

He also points out that paired male and female architectural sites and symbols are part of Venda culture. Huffman sees evidence of this division in the architecture of Great Zimbabwe, where doors, pathways, and towers often occur in pairs. To Huffman, certain structures—notably the Western Enclosure on the Hill and the Conical Tower in the Great Enclosure—display male symbols, such as monoliths and spears. Other structures, such as part of the Great Enclosure's wall and the Cleft Rock Enclosure on the Hill, display female symbols, including snakes and V-shaped stone patterns.

Recent scholarship has focused on interpreting the existing evidence in light of the oral histories and tradiüons of Zimbabwe. Innocent Pikirayi, an archaeologist and professor of history at the University of Zimbabwe, has studied the evidence to learn about the origins and dedine of early Zimbabwe. Work such as this ensures that Great Zimbabwe will stay in the limelight. This attenüon poses a challenge for conservaüonists. How can the site be made accessible to more and more visitors while at the same time be preserved?

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