The Great Zimbabwe, Ancient Ruins


This photograph of the ancient ruins of the Great Zimbabwe is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855–1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography, whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890–1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. Great Zimbabwe, from which the country of Zimbabwe takes its name, is a ruined city that was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which flourished from the 13th to the 15th centuries. The ruins include several complexes, the oldest of which dates from the 11th century, spread over an area of more than 72 square kilometers. They are renowned for massive curving walls, constructed from millions of rectangular granite blocks that hold together without mortar. The Great Zimbabwe ruins are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Last updated: May 24, 2017