Great Zimbabwe was a large kingdom/empire that flourished for about 300 years from around 1100 to around 1450. In terms of ancient kingdoms, this is not an extremely long period of time. But the Sub-African urbanized areas had the misfortune of dealing with highly variable climate patterns. While not always a "game killer" by themselves, timed to a peak demographic period already under stress and they could be.
CLIMATE CHANGE IN SOUTHERN AND EASTERN AFRICA
KARIN HOLMGREN and HELENA O¨ BERG
alternate link if the above one is buggyThe fall of Mapungubwe was followed by the build-up of a new centre, the Great Zimbabwe, situated towards the east and along the southeast escarpment, where the amount of rain generally is more favourable. At first, Great Zimbabwe developed slowly, with later rapid growth coinciding with, and possibly favoured by, better climatic conditions. It survived one period of drought and then flourished, with a rapidly growing population, between 1400 and 1420 AD, a period of wetter, warmer conditions (Figure 2). The collapse of great Zimbabwe coincides with a rapid decline in precipitation and temperature at 1450 AD. Water shortage and famines, together with political instability and decline in trade, have been suggested as the causes for the abandonment of Great Zimbabwe (Parsons, 1993).