Tech UPTechnologyTwo African Mysteries: The Great Zimbabwe and the Kingdom...

Two African Mysteries: The Great Zimbabwe and the Kingdom of Saba

Near the Chimanimani Mountains and Lake Mutirikwe, in southeastern Zimbabwe, is the city from which this African country with 16 official languages takes its name: Great Zimbabwe . It is an impressive complex of stone buildings spread over 150 km 2 and built between the 11th and 15th centuries, in which neither cement nor mortar was used, and the stones were carefully carved to fit perfectly , like a kind of giant puzzle in three dimensions. Something incredible if we consider that there are walls up to 10 meters high. How could it be otherwise, the city was linked to gold deposits: in the mines of present-day Rhodesia, in southern Zimbabwe, it is estimated that some 600,000 kilos of gold were extracted . Trade reached those latitudes, as Arab coins and Chinese vessels have been found. Why the city was abandoned remains a mystery.

An unknown African kingdom

Who were its builders? The colonialist theories of the early 20th century attributed this merit to Arabs or Phoenicians, and it was even said that it was a replica of the palace of the mythical Queen of Sheba (everything but attributing it to the expertise of the obviously inferior black Africans). But archaeological digs point to the ancestors of the Shona , the predominant tribe in Zimbabwe today . Moreover, in its language this African country is called Dzimba dza mabwe , stone house.

However, other historians argue that its builders were members of another tribe, much less numerous: the Lemba . To complicate matters further, the Lemba claim to be related to one of the most well-known Jewish myths: they claim to come from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel .

One of the greatest experts in this African region, Tudor Parfitt, together with his colleagues at the University of London, discovered a peculiar feature on its Y chromosome called the modal Cohen haplotype. The name comes from the Jewish priestly caste known as the kohanim : in them the men claim to be direct descendants of Aaron, the older brother of Moses and the first Jewish High Priest. Being a descendant of Aaron implies belonging to the priestly branch, just as being a descendant of David means belonging to the royal lineage. That this peculiarity is found in both ethnic groups makes many think that the oral history of the Lemba, who claim to come from the Middle East, precisely from a group that left Judea 2,500 years ago, has some basis. To all this we must add the fact that the Lemba do not eat pork, rabbit, hare or fish without scales, as Leviticus commands , they kill animals in the kosher way and introduced circumcision in East Africa and place a star of David in the tombs. Even Parfitt has hypothesized that the Lemba tradition that speaks of a sacred object, ngoma lungundu or thunder drum, is actually the Ark of the Covenant that was lost from Jerusalem after being destroyed by the Babylonians. Are we facing something more than a myth? Is there any connection between them and the lost kingdom of Saba?

Two countries, Yemen and Somalia, dispute the location of this legendary kingdom mentioned in the Old Testament. It is mentioned in the books of Kings and Chronicles of the Old Testament: the queen of this unknown country, fascinated by the stories that praised Solomon’s wisdom, went to see him and brought him gifts in the form of spices, gold and precious stones. . Contrary to what Hollywood tells us, in the Bible there is no evidence of any type of sexual attraction between the two kings , who conversed as what they were, heads of state. Only in certain passages of the Song of Songs do some want to see a veiled allusion to the love between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, who is never mentioned by name.

For the Ethiopians, the queen of Saba is Makeda, for the Muslims, she is Bilqis, and for Flavius Josephus, she is Nicaula, Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, who lived in the X BC. These are the indications that locate Saba in this African country. The imperial family of Ethiopia claims descent from the Queen of Sheba and Solomon ; They call themselves the Solomonic Dynasty. And although others place the famous kingdom in Nubia, last year some remains from 3,000 years ago were discovered: the Temple of the Moon Goddess in the city of Ma’rib, in Yemen, which was the capital of the Sabean kingdom. Did the Queen of Sheba live there? The struggle to see which side of the Red Sea shores the legendary city was on has yet to be resolved.


Korotayev, A. (1996) Pre-Islamic Yemen, Harrassowitz Verlag

Parfitt, T. (2008) The Lost Ark of the Covenant, HarperCollins

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