The property, extends over almost 800 ha and is divided into three groups: the Hill Ruins, the Great Enclosure and the Valley Ruins. Great Zimbabwe is believed to have served as a royal palace for the local monarch. The edifices are believed to have been erected in the prehistoric period, by a Bantu population of the Iron Age, the Shona. The west enclosure is thought to have been the residence of successive chiefs and the east enclosure, where six steatite upright posts topped with birds were found, considered to serve a ritual purpose.
As such, it would have been used as the seat of political power. Among the edifice’s most prominent features were its walls, some of which are eleven meters high. Rough granite rubble-stone blocks form distinct enclosures, accessed by narrow, partly covered, passageways.
Great Zimbabwe were continuously inhabited from the 11th to 15th centuries, and there are numerous layers of traces of human settlements. Eventually, the city was abandoned and fell into ruin.