The Karanga people ruled a great inland African empire from about AD1000 to AD1600. The Karanga were great traders smelted gold and traded it on the shores of the Indian Ocean for glass beads and porcelain from China. European explorers discovered vast stone ruins of the Karanga in 1867. The site was called Zimbabwe, which means "stone dwelling" in the native Bantu language.
The Europeans were unwilling to believe that sub-Saharan Africans could have built Zimbabwe; they theorized that ancient Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans, or Hebrews created the structures. Excavations in 1932 proved that the indigenous Africans created the ruins, but the white colonial government of Rhodesia attempted to deny the site's African genesis. The leaders of Rhodesia said the land was empty of people and culture before they arrived. When the government allowed people of all races to vote in 1980, the black majority of the nation discarded the name of Rhodesia and, looking to the past for nobler origins, chose the name Zimbabwe.