“The centre of the largest kingdom in the sub-continent before it was abandoned. What survives are the almost untouched remains of the palace sites, and also the entire settlement area dependent upon them, as well as two earlier capital sites, the whole presenting an unrivalled picture of the development of social and political structures over some 400 years.” ~UNESCO
Mapungubwe was a sophisticated kingdom, which was located in present day Limpopo in South Africa. It was home to the ancestors of the Shona people of Zimbabwe, and the Venda people of South Africa. It emerged from 800AD, and started declining in 1240AD.
They had a flourishing agricultural industry, where millet, sorghum and cotton were cultivated, and they traded in gold, copper and ivory, with East Africa, Persia, China, India and Egypt. A few graves were escavated, and three of the bodies, believed to be of royalty, were buried with a variety of gold and copper items exotic glass beads, and other prestigious objects. A gold rhino was among the items, which is a symbol of leadership among the Shona people.
The kingdom eventually collapsed, due to climate change, and it was abandoned. It is believed that some of its people may have headed north to Great Zimbabwe. Mapungubwe was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 2003.
For more information on Mapungubwe, go to http://www.southafrica.info/about/history/mapungubwe.htm