South Africa’s prehistory was written anew with opening of the Mapungubwe Museum on the grounds of the University of Pretoria. Mapungubwe is a cultural heritage site in the Limpopo Province of the Nation. It is South-Africa’s lost city of gold. A city inspired by the iron-age and established its sovereignty for over 400 years. It was a dominant kingdom up until the 14th century when it collapsed due to poor climatic conditions.
The economic activities of the people at the time were primarily based on agriculture and trade. The site was discovered by excavators in 1932 and kept a secret for a significant period of time. Critics have it that the reason for the secrecy was so as to stifle African supremacy during apartheid period so as not to defeat the justification that Africans were incapable of civilization. However there is the school of thought that presents the argument that it took restorers a long time to refurbish these artifacts back to their original forms. Archeologists from the University discovered a burial site on Mapubungwe hill with twenty seven graves. Three of these graves were royal chambers abound with the golden artifacts that make up the museum today. This speaks of the development of class systems that had been ascertained in Africa even in this early period. South Africa’s earliest kingdom boasts of a people who had progressed as far as societal organization was concerned way before colonization. There is evidence of trade between the members of this society and other parts of the world such as Egypt, Persia, Asia and China. New facts about the people are discovered every other day as the museum continues to carry out field work in a bid to uncover more riches both historical and archeological. All in all the pieces collected are both rare and exquisite, the gold rhinoceros and gold bovine figurines are seemingly the most popular. However the majority of the pieces are ornamental and come in the form of gold beaded necklaces, bangles and even anklets. There are also 1428 golden nails that were said to be used for the purpose of attaching sheets of gold to wooden forms so as to enhance the aesthetics of their effigies. You would find that an animal statue had been curved out of wood and then gold plated, an example of such an effigy can be found at the museum in the form of a reconstructed animal head. No matter what conspiracy theories are spun around the delay in the unveiling of the museum one thing stands true; the university should be commended for preserving a site and artifacts of such great historical and cultural significance not only to the nation but to the continent.
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