The External Trade And Trade In Africa In The Great Zimbabwe

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The external trade network was where Great Zimbabwe prospered. The trade with the Swahili city states, East Africa, and with Europeans is what made Great Zimbabwe rich. Because of poor agriculture, the trade in gold had become extremely important amongst the African nations. The king mined and traded gold as well as ivory with the Swahili coast of East Africa and Europeans. The Mutapas were large gold exporters. They mined the northern areas of a reef running North-east to South-west along the watersheds of all the Zimbabwe rivers to the coastal ports. The gold was mined by the peasants but had to be given over to the king as tribute. Gold was the main basis of the wealth of the Zimbabwean economy because it was greatly sort after by the Arab ports. The trade in ivory was also booming as it had a large monetary value as it lasted longer than gold. Each madzimbahwe generated its own surplus that was used for exchange. Caches of imported objects such as Indian glass beads, Chinese celadon dishes and silk, were found by archaeologists at the abandoned cities of Great Zimbabwe.
Dominance over gold sources in the interior gave Great Zimbabwe a great commercial advantage over its rivals which it developed with Kilwa and Sofala along the coast which developed alongside the Arab centres due to the trade in gold. The balance between exportation and importation with Africa could not be easily achieved. What the nations of Africa regarded as valuable and what foreigners regarded as valuable were two very different things. The value of gold was strong within African cultures but objects such as the pottery and beads traded by the Arabs had a larger value due to their rarity, while gold was much more important to the Arabs than the wares they...

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... trade influenced the steady decline of Great Zimbabwe. More than 20 million ounces of gold were extracted from the land and used for trade. The combination of falling world prices of gold and the depleted supply of gold resulted in the crash of Great Zimbabwe’s economy which rendered the nation unable to import food to supply their dwindling harvests as monoculture had set in.
In conclusion, one can see that the fall of Great Zimbabwe can be explained due to trade, environmental conditions, disease, or even overpopulation. Trade may be seen as the major contributor as the changing value of gold affected the outcome of Great Zimbabwe’s survival the greatest. If the large trading network of gold had continued and had the value and export of gold in Africa remained at its optimum levels, the people of Great Zimbabwe would have survived and the city never abandoned.
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