The Kingdom of Mapungubwe — was a pre-colonial state in Southern Africa located at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers, south of Great Zimbabwe. The name is derived from either Venda or Shona. The name may mean "Hill of Jackals"  - see below. The kingdom was the first stage in a development that would culminate in the creation of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe in the 13th century, and with gold trading links to Rhapta and Kilwa Kisiwani on the African east coast.
The Kingdom of Mapungubwe lasted about 80 years, and at its height its population was about people. The Mapungubwe Collection is a museum collection of artifacts found at the archaeological site and is housed in the Mapungubwe Museum in Pretoria. This archaeological site can be attributed to the Bukalanga Kingdom, which comprises the Bakalanga people from northeast Botswana, the Karanga from Western Zimbabwe, the Vha Venda in the northeast of South Africa.
They were the first Bantu to cross the Limpopo River to the south, and established their kingdom where the Shashe and Limpopo conjoined Sha-limpo. The largest settlement from what has been dubbed the Leopard's Kopje culture is known as K2 culture and was the immediate predecessor to the settlement of Mapungubwe.
The control of the gold and ivory trade greatly decreased the political power of the K2 culture. Spatial organisation in the kingdom of Mapungubwe involved the use of stone walls to demarcate important areas for the first time. There was a stone-walled residence likely occupied by the principal councillor.
There would have also been a wooden palisade surrounding Mapungubwe Hill. Most of the capital's population would have lived inside the western wall. The capital of the kingdom was called Mapungubwe, which is where the kingdom gets its name.
There is controversy regarding the origin and meaning of the name Mapungubwe. It also means "place of wisdom" and "the place where the rock turns into liquid"—from various ethnicities in the region including the Pedi, Sotho, Venda and Shona. In Shona , the language spoken in Zimbabwe, the word mapungu is the plural form of the word chapungu , denoting the bateleur eagle, which is widely believed to be the model for the Zimbabwean birds that once graced the massive Great Zimbabwe royal complex.
The ending "bwe" is a diminutive of the word "ibwe," which means stone or rock in Shona language. Mapungubwe, in this respect, means the 'rocks of the bateleur eagles'—an indication that there were many bateleurs in the area or location. Chapungu Village in Harare , Zimbabwe's capital, which showcases the country's arts and sculpture traditions, is a tribute to the spirit of the bateleur, a bird which has deep religious connotations in Shona culture.
Mapungubwean society is thought by archaeologists to be the first class-based social system in southern Africa; that is, its leaders were separated from and higher in rank than its inhabitants. He later divided his state into districts that were then given and ruled by his children who then became Paramount Chiefs, who had to report to the king himself. Mapungubwe's architecture and spatial arrangement also provide "the earliest evidence for sacred leadership in southern Africa".
Life in Mapungubwe was centred on family and farming. Special sites were created for initiation ceremonies, household activities, and other social functions. Cattle lived in kraals located close to the residents' houses, signifying their value. Most speculation about society continues to be based upon the remains of buildings, since the Mapungubweans left no written record. The kingdom was likely divided into a three-tiered hierarchy with the commoners inhabiting low-lying sites, district leaders occupying small hilltops, and the capital at Mapungubwe hill as the supreme authority.
Royal wives lived in their own area away from the king. Important men maintained prestigious homes on the outskirts of the capital. This type of spatial division occurred first at Mapungubwe but would be replicated in later Butua and Rozwistates. Gold objects were uncovered in elite burials on the royal hill Mapungubwe hill.
According to an article published in , translated from the Afrikaans text: Remains of a Rock Fort located on top of the hill were under investigation, dated back to the 11th century. The Archeological site is closed to the public, except for supervised visits and tours.
However some of the items discovered were on display at the Department of Archeology, at the University of Pretoria. Mapungubwe Hill and K2 were declared national monuments in the s by the government.
At least twenty four skeletons were unearthed on Mapungubwe hill but only eleven were available for analysis, with the rest disintegrating upon touch or as soon as they were exposed to light and air. Most of the skeletal remains were buried with few or no accessories with most adults buried with glass beads. Two adult burials labeled numbers 10 and 14 by the early excavators as well as one unlabelled skeleton referred to as the original gold burial  were associated with gold artefacts and were unearthed from the so-called grave area upon Mapungubwe hill.
Despite this latest information the remains were all buried in the traditional Bantu burial position sitting with legs drawn to the chest, arms folded round the front of the knees and they were facing west. The Skeleton numbered 10, a male, was buried with his hand grasping the golden Scepter. The skeleton labelled number 14 female was buried with at least gold wire bangles around her ankles and there were at least one thousand gold beads in her grave.
The last gold burial male , who was most probably the King,was buried with a headrest and three objects made of gold foil tacked onto a wooden core, depicting a bowl, scepter and rhino. At least two more rhino were in the sample, but their association with a specific grave is unknown. In , the South African Government gave the green light for the skeletal remains that were excavated back in to be reburied on Mapungubwe hill in a ceremony that took place on 20 November Taken from South Africa, to the left is Botswana and Zimbabwe is on the right.
The river running from left to right is the Limpopo River. The river which disappears on the horizon is the Shashe. The Golden Rhinoceros of Mapungubwe. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Kingdom of Mapungubwe — Kingdom of Mutapa — Dutch Cape Colony — All facilities at Mapungubwe National Park are wheelchair-friendly.
South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 19 August Retrieved 16 September History of the Park". Retrieved 17 November Journal of African Archaeology 10 2 , , pages — Other South African Governments. Political history of South Africa.
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