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Notes on the Geography of Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe: Photo 13

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Once through the doorway, things become really messy. It is true that people were living up here when Mauch arrived, but it's also true, as Garlake writes, that "reckless investigators" have dug up the site in wanton pursuit of relics. Among these hunters was Richard Nicklin Hall, a journalist who in 1900, as author of The Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia, was appointed the first Curator of Great Zimbabwe.

Garlake can hardly contain his anger in describing Hall's work. Charged with preserving the site, but convinced that it had been built by "ancient Semitic colonizers," Hall removed "at least three to five feet, and in places up to twelve feet, of stratified archaeological deposits. His justification for this, in his grotesquely inapposite words, 'recent and timely preservation work', was that he was only removing 'the filth and decadence of the Kaffir occupation..." (Garlake, pp. 71-4).

Garlake isn't alone in his fury. A contemporary of Hall, archaeologist David Randall-MacIver, characterized Hall's work as "worse than anything I have ever seen." Randall-MacIver writes: "Except in one tiny corner [of the Elliptical Temple] he has lifted up and carted bodily away everything about foundation level. That is to say he has destroyed all the original huts, and removed all the objects found in them." (Quoted in Fontein, p. 80.)

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