Prof Shadreck Chirikure reimagines the story of a momentous African civilisation

Combining archaeological science and technology with Shona ethnography, Shadreck Chirikure and colleagues have pieced together a new story about Great Zimbabwe, one that he says no longer “marginalises” those responsible for its majesty.

In this article just published in The Economist, Chirikure argues that decolonising archaeology is not about rejecting academic rigour or centuries of progress in materials science. It is, he argues, about incorporating “local sources of knowledge”. In trying to understand life in Great Zimbabwe, he says that it is better to understand Shona culture, rather than copy and paste ideas based on medieval European kingdoms.

The 3D models of the Great Enclosure and the Hill Complex were created by Zamani Project of University of Cape Town using terrestrial laser-scanning, structure-from-motion photogrammetry and drone imagery

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