1902 – Great Zimbabwe Excavation

1902 – Great Zimbabwe Excavation


In 1902, the legislative council of Southern Rhodesia passed the Ancient Monuments Protection Ordinance in response to excavations undertaken by archaeologist James Theodore Bent and Rhodesia Ancient Ruins Ltd.

A British Journalist, Richard Nicklin Hall (1853-1914), was appointed to oversee Great Zimbabwe itself. Hall was a journalist representing several British newspapers and was assigned by Cecil Rhodes to explore the ruins. Hall travelled to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins to undertake research into the theory by Professor Augustus Henry Keane that the Biblical land of Havilah was centred on Great Zimbabwe.

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. (Genesis 2:10-11)

Hall arrived 21st May, 1902 at Victoria, Mashonaland and travelled to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. The base camp occupied by Hall was called Havilah Camp and consisted of mainly British archaeologists and was situated a few feet from the north-side of No.3 Ruins.

Hall spent two years excavating the great enclosure, which he published in detail in 1905. He believed that he could distinguish two occupations – one sun-worshipping Semitic (perhaps Himyarite Arabs), the other medieval Arab – separated by a long period of abandonment.

The expedition ended in 1904 and any Biblical connection with the ruins was rejected. Due to the damage undertaken during this expedition to the ruins, Hall was dismissed from his role as curator.



  • Great Zimbabwe, Mashonaland, Rhodesia: An Account of Two Years’ Examination Work in 1902-4 on Behalf of the Government of Rhodesia – R.N. Hall
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