After Dark: The Nocturnal Urban Landscape of Great Zimbabwe


This is an abstract from the "After Dark: The Nocturnal Urban Landscape & Lightscape of Ancient Cities" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

What was night life like at Great Zimbabwe? While this question excites imagination in numerous ways, in fact and myth, not much is known about nocturnal life in this ancient African urban landscape. Most archaeological reconstructions of urban life at Great Zimbabwe create the erroneous impression that the inhabitants of the town lived during only the day and never at night. Consequently, an unquestioned assumption is that most of the evidence at the site points to daily activities. And yet, the sum of human life combines daily and nightly existence and quotidian practices. This paper deploys comparative insights from ethnographies and oral history to interrogate the archaeology of Great Zimbabwe to initiate a conversation on life after dark during the flourishing of this multi-building and multi-period settlement. We suggest that sunset at Great Zimbabwe opened the door to subsistence practices, economic pursuits, rituals, games, relaxation, music and other forms of entertainment. Often, these activities were seasonally scheduled and were performed either individually or collectively, cross-cutting gender and class divisions.

Cite this Record

After Dark: The Nocturnal Urban Landscape of Great Zimbabwe. Shadreck Chirikure, Munyaradzi Manyanga, Genius Tevera. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450641)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.721; min lat: -35.174 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 27.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23914