Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Giant In Clothes Woven In Gold!

The Buffalo Courier

April 29, 1900









From the Bulawayo Chronicle.
Quite recently Mr. W. G. Neal returned
here from a four months’ sojourn in the
Belingwe district, during which time he
has, in conjunction with Mr. George
Johnson, been engaged in the exploration
of some recently discovered and brought in
some interesting as well as valuable examples
of gold fashioned into a variety
of forms, such as gold beads wire, nails,
beaten out sheet, strung or covered with
gold, etc. which indicate a fairly advanced
stage of civilization, being superior
to anything the Matabele were able
to accomplish.  Mr. Neal has now
examined more than two hundred separate
ruins in this country during the
past four years, and has arrived at certain
conclusions respecting them.  The
letters written by Portuguese Jesuit
Priests, preserved in; the archives of Lisbon,
do not date back more than 400
years, but recent exploration has
demonstrated that in many cases statements
written then are quite trust worthy, and
that tradition orally handed sown really
does describe facts.  Mr. Neal gives an
instance of this.  Traditon says that the
people of that period, the sixteenth century,
living in this country, wore cloth
interwoven with gold thread.  This they
have discovered to be a fact, as (some
years ago) they found a corpse buried in
a ruin situated in the Umtillkwe hills
near the Shangani River. The fabric was
in a more or less decayed condition.

Mr. Neal’s investigation lead him to the
conclusion that the ruins are to be referred
to mainly two distinct periods, each
of which was historically of long
duration. At the mambo ruins, better
known by the native name Dhlolo, lying
some sixty miles east of Bulawaye on
the Inseza belt, the discoveries made
indicate that these ruins were occupied at
two different periods.  The lower stonework
exposed by evacuation is similar in
iIts elaborate character to that of
Zimbabwe, whereas the additions done by
the later inhabitants are crude in design
and rough in execution, and more after
the style of the stonework done by the
Basutos today.  It was doubtless therefore
built about four hundred years ago.

At this particular mine two cannon of
Portuguese manufacture were discovered,
 one a brass breech-loader, the other
an iron muzzle-loader. Additional finds
were the private silver seal of a Jesuit
Priest, an incense censer, silver bells,
Egyptian bronze oil lamp, jewelry of
modern manufacture, gold filigree work
earrings, portions of silver plate wrought
with embossed work in the design of a vine 
and grapes, and a gold coin or
medallion somewhat larger than a five
pound piece.  On one side of the
surface was perfectly smooth, the other
had a design in relief, exquisitely
wrought, of two birds fighting over a
heart, and so clear that you could see
The feathers falling through the air. 
unfortunately it is believed that this
beautiful relic, which was handed over to
Dr. Jameson, has been lost.

In addition to the articles discovered
which have been mentioned, a considerable
quantity of manufactured as well as
raw gold was discovered, which goes to
prove that in those days when communication
took so long, the Jesuit mission
station of that period was self- supported,
and many even have been the
medium of a considerable amount of trade.
It is probable that the inhabitants of the
station were extinguished one day
unexpectedly by a hostile tribe of savages,
as nearly seven hundred ounces of
gold were discovered in the ruins, which
would have been in those days quite
a large amount of wealth. It would
appear that the priest and his people filled
in the ruin as they found it, for on
excavating to a depth of fifteen feet the
old floors and walls of the original
ancients who built these forts , or whatever
they may be called, were found.  Here on
these old floors gold beads, etc. were
found of an altogether different pattern
from these discovered on the floors.

Throughout the whole course of Mr.
Neal’s previous investigation in all the
ruins, it has been his special aim and
object to locate the workshop and smelting
furnaces, but hitherto all his efforts
in this direction have been baffled, as
although portions of gold crucibles (that
is pots used to smelt gold in,) have been
found in some cases, yet the exact spot
used by the workmen of the past has
not been attained which is satisfactory
although the results were rather
disappointing.  The crucibles more or less
broken with a few small beads of visible
gold still adhering to the surface were
found, and Mr. Neal was, after very
careful working, enabled to make a
rough sketch of the site of the furnace and its
immediate surroundings.  The results
disappointing in two ways: First,
because no goodly store of gold was found;
and, secondly, the smelting furnace was
no elaborate device, but simply
constructed in the style like that
adopted by the Asiatic Indian gold and silver-
smith of today and built of clay.  The
effect is that no light is really thrown
on the question of whether these people
were in an advanced stage of civilization,
or were only very primitive workers.
were they thorough adepts in their
profession in short what and who were
they?  The clay furnace, a rudely-shaped
receptacle, contained an amalgam to be
smelted in the pellets or cakes, and any
gold bubbling or splashing over settled
in the clay, which gradually accumulated?
Fresh layers of clay being added from
time to time. In one of these furnaces
six separate layers were found, which, on
being broken up, disclosed small pieces
of smelted gold.  What fluxes were used,
to expedite the process it is impossible to
say, but probably this could be ascertained
by an analysis of the residue adhering
to the sides of crucibles.

The peculiar pellets, which art first sight
look like lead or shot, if cut will be found
to be alloy, and, further, on subjecting
them to fire, there will exude tiny beads
of white metal, which is without doubt
mercury.  At least only the small bright
yellow gold button is left.  It appears,
therefore, quite certain that quicksilver
was known to, and used by, these people.
copper was also known, smelted
copper having been found, and probably
they fashioned bangles out of copper
and overlaid them with gold bands, as
portions of iron bangles treated in this
way have been discovered.  Mr. Neal is
of the opinion that silver bangles, beads, etc.,
are probably due to the Jesuit priest.
It is not improbable that he or his people
exchanged silver for gold, a larger
quantity of the latter. On another point
at any rate plausible, and in support of
which some evidence can be adduced. It
relates in the first place to the sheet of
beaten gold, which was probably overlaid
on wood, and secured by the gold
nails discovered, covering either some
sacred idol, rod or staff of office.

The greater question still remains:
“Who were these people?”  Now, taking
Biblical history as the most authentic,
gold was very plentiful in the time of
King Solomon.  He and also the Queen of
Sheba possessed a great deal of it; in the
Great Temple it was largely used for
decorative purposes, the expression
“beaten gold” being very noticeable,
though gold nails are not mentioned.
Now the Queen of Sheba must have
obtained gold through trading of her
merchants.  Further, it is very curious
fact that Mr. Neal has discovered carved
bowls made of soapstone figures of
the ibis, or sacred bird of Egypt, as
well as portions of Egyptian pottery, so
there seems no doubt there was a close
connection between these ancient metal
Workers and the land of the Nile.

Probably nearly the whole of the
World’s supply of gold came from Africa
during Biblical times.  Since this period
the Sofala and Sabi have been familiar,
but even up to the present time Sofala
on the east coast is a rich port, and
although the sea now covers the town
or city that used to be picked up for the
search for them, and the Sabi is in Rhodesia,
so that these facts point to the
conclusion that Rhodesia must have
yielded the gold of that period.  Not only
has gold hidden away been discovered.
but the mode of burial practiced by these
ancient people has been clearly made out,
And also the fact that they were
interred with all their jewelry.  In the

case of the remains of the giant previously

mentioned, twelve ounces of gold

Ornaments were found.  So far no writing
or hieroglyphics have been found or
inscription of any kind, and the only
possible chance of discovering the key to
the grand secret lies hidden in Zimbabwe.

Original story from microfilm records at,
 Buffalo Erie County Public Library Central Library
1 Lafayette Square
Buffalo, NY 14203

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