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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 7 (1) 2009

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S. Woodborne, M. Pienaar & S. Tiley-Nel

Dating the Mapungubwe Hill gold

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 7 (1), 2009, pages 99-105, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10122

Abstract
This paper presents direct dating evidence for the manufacture of some of the gold artefacts from the Iron Age archaeological site of Mapungubwe Hill (South Africa). The results confirm that the artefacts are contemporaneous with the occupation of the site and are the product of a mature indigenous metalworking tradition. The Mapungubwe Hill gold artefacts were manufactured at a time when a substantial reorganisation of society led to the separation of royals and commoners and a change in the role of cattle as a form of wealth. These changes are clearly manifest in the use of gold. Whereas gold had previously been traded with the East coast, it became symbolic of power, wealth and status at Mapungubwe Hill.

Résumé
Cet article présente les preuves de la datation directe de la production d'objets en or sur le site archéologique de l'Âge du Fer de Mapungubwe Hill (Afrique du Sud). Les résultats confirment que les artefacts sont contemporains de l'occupation du site et qu'ils sont le produit d'une tradition métallurgique autochtone maîtrisée. Les objets en or de la colline de Mapungubwe ont été  produits au moment où une réorganisation fondamentale de la société a provoqué la séparation de la famille royale du reste de la population et la revalorisation du bétail en tant que forme de richesse. Ces changements sont clairement visibles dans l'utilisation de l'or. Si le commerce de l'or était précédemment pratiqué de façon courante sur la côte est, ce métal est devenu dès cette époque un symbole de puissance et de richesse, en particulier à Mapungubwe Hill.




Keywords: gold, indigenous gold, Mapungubwe, radiocarbon dating, Southern Africa, southern Africa


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Sonja Magnavita, Peter Breunig, Sam Nixon

Book Reviews Editor:
Jonathan R. Walz, USA

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Graham Connah, Australia
Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
A. Catherine D'Andrea, Canada
Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
Elena Garcea, Italy
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
Timothy Insoll, UK
Tom Huffman, South Africa
Eric Huysecom, Switzerland
David Killick, USA
Savino di Lernia, Italy
Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Belgium
Scott MacEachern, USA
David Mattingly, UK
Susan Keech McIntosh, USA
David W. Phillipson, UK
Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
Peter Robertshaw, USA
Robert Vernet, France
Lyn Wadley, South Africa

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Gaby Franke, Germany
Annabelle Gallin, France
Richard Byer, Germany

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Anna Rybar, Germany
Carlos Magnavita, Germany


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