Great Zimbabwe is a ruined East African city that once was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country's late Iron Age.
Great Zimbabwe is located in the southeastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo. Construction on the monument by ancestors of the Shona people began in the 11th century and continued until the 15th century.
By the 14th century the Shona people were masters of an empire covering over a thousand square miles. The fortress of Great Zimbabwe is a testament to the empire's sophistication. This huge building of 20 foot thick walls and conical towers was the product of a wealthy civilization, rich in gold, copper and iron.
Shona beliefs were barely touched by Christianity or Islam until the rise of the slave trade. The Shona believed (and many still do) that upon death, a spirit (mudzimu) wanders, homeless, until his or her family welcomes it back to the household. This typically takes place about a year after death. By this time, one family member (usually the eldest son), will serve as the medium (svikiro) for the deceased. Sometimes the spirit will choose its own medium by inflicting the candidate with an illness that can only be identified by traditional healer (n'anga) who advises the family that the afflicted person is to be the new medium.
The spirit is offered food and drink. If the ceremony is successful, he or she returns to the family as an Ancestor Spirit.
In the 16th century the Portuguese disrupted trade, weakening Shona civilization. The slave trade prompted more traditional Madzimbabwe to leave the Euthanatoi to tend their own people, while assimilationists were absorbed into the other factions and practised their Arts as personal variations on the Tradition mainstream.
With the gradual revival of Shona political power in Zimbabwe, many have returned to the death mages, increasing the ranks of acknowledged Madzimbabwe in the Euthanatos. As the only well-known Madzimbabwe from the faction's pre-colonial membership, the archmage Senex gains even more prestige as the returning Wheel-turners look to him for guidance.
For the real city, see Great Zimbabwe.