This topic describes the history of the southern African kingdoms of Mapungubwe, Thulamela and Great Zimbabwe with a special look at how they were organised and the role played by cattle, gold and ivory in these societies.

During the early days of the last millennium several great Iron Age kingdoms existed in southern Africa. Thulamela, Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe were all established as centres of agriculture, but developed into trading nations, exchanging goods with Arab and Portuguese merchants through East African harbours. Cattle, ivory and gold were important trading goods and key to the survival of these kingdoms.

We are first going to examine what an ‘Iron Age Kingdom’ is. We will then look at each of the three Kingdoms (Thulamela, Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe) individually.

Note: Some grade 6 sections are under construction and still link to old content. Also note, there may be minor changes to the curriculum from year to year, teachers always check with your Curriculum Advisor and students, check with your teacher.

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