Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Mapungubwe: South Africa’s lost city of gold

A thousand years ago, Mapungubwe in Limpopo province was the center of the largest kingdom in Africa, where a sophisticated people traded gold and ivory with China, India and Egypt.

The Iron Age site was declared a World Heritage site by Unesco in July 2003. Mapungubwe is an area of open savannah at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers and abutting the northern border of South Africa and the borders of Zimbabwe and Botswana. It thrived from around 1220 to 1300.
Twenty-three graves have been excavated so far with the bodies in three of these graves buried in the upright seated position associated with royalty, with a variety of gold and copper items, and exotic glass beads. The finds provide evidence not only of the early smithing of gold in southern Africa, but of the extensive wealth and social differentiation of the people.

Mapungubwe’s fortune only lasted until about 1300, after which climate changes, resulting in the area becoming colder and drier, led to migrations further north.
Between 1200 and 1300 AD, the Mapungubwe region was the center of trade in southern Africa. Wealth came to the region from ivory and later from gold deposits that were found in Zimbabwe. The area was also agriculturally rich. The wealth in the area led to differences between rich and poor.
Golden rhino, Mapungubwe National Park