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Mapungubwe A Trading State tied into trade down Limpopo River with Swahili states such as Kilwa The most powerful state in the central and southern regions of Africa c. end of 1st Millennium AD The Capital on the Hill was important from 1290—1300, very short-lived. From 1200 to 1290 other sites such as K2 were important. Mapungubwe Hill: Court at Base Issues Today Regarding Mapungubwe Excavations took place under Apartheid regime, by Afrikaners. Materials poorly described and poor curated Contests over representation and curation of the remains are a significant source of political maneuvering and conflict Settlement in Region First iron-making people arrived in the Limpopo valley by AD 500. Larger farming communities developed in the Limpopo River valley between AD 800 and AD 1400. K2 and Mapungubwe were inhabited between AD 1000 and Ad 1300. Both sites were likely capitals First Settlement Mapungubwe Hill is a sandstone hill with vertical cliffs and a flat top approximately 30m high and 300 m long. A substantial deposit of soil covers it. Remains of floors, burnt houses and household refuse. Southern Terrace below was inhabited from AD 1030 to 1290 (260 years). The hilltop was inhabited for about 70 years from AD 1220 to Ad 1290 Mapungbwe: Palace Site Settlement Structure Mapungubwe was the center of a terraced settlement. Stonewalls buttressed the slopes and homesteads were scattered about. The K2 site shows indicates subsistence farming, both stock and crops. Human remains indicate that these communities enjoyed a healthy, varied diet. People were prosperous and kept domesticated cattle, sheep, goats and dogs. Charred storage huts, with millet, sorghum and cotton. Settlement and Social Structure Leaders were spatially separated from followers, a class-based society. The homes, diet, and elaborate burials of the wealthy elite different from the commoners, who lived at the foot of Mapungubwe and on the surrounding plateau. Commoners area to east, on Plateau Excavation of Royal Graves in 1970s by Univ. of Pretoria Burials Twenty-three graves have been excavated from the hilltop site. The bodies in three graves were buried in an upright seated position associated with royalty, along with gold and copper items, exotic glass beads, and other prestigious objects Trade at Mapungwe Traded with cultures as far away as East Africa, Persia, Egypt, India and China. Thousands of glass beads have been found in the middens and graves at K2 and Mapungubwe. Children and adults were buried with strings of beads. Large quantities were traded through Swahili ports on the East coast of Africa. Trade beads were imported from Egypt or India for ivory and gold. The K2 people manufactured large beads, known as garden roller beads. Trade glass beads were melted and the molten glass was wound into a clay mould. Trade at Mapungubwe The new trade used existing regional networks along which salt, cattle, fish, metals, chert, ostrich-eggshell beads, and other items had been flowing for centuries. New prestige items--glass beads and cloth, were introduced through the Swahili trade Mapungubwe: Precursor to Great Zimbabwe Gold and Social/Political Status Gold objects from the Mapungubwe graves: rhinoceros, sceptre and bowl, were originally gold sheet or foil covering wooden carvings. The gold sheet was folded around the wooden core and held in place with tacks. The sceptre and rhinoceros, were possibly symbols associated with a person of high status, such as a king, who was buried with these objects. Numerous beads and bangles from graves on Mapungubwe Hill indicate that sr. members of the royal family adorned themselves with different types of golden jewelry.
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