Mining halted at Mapungubwe heritage site, for now

Plans to mine coal close to the Mapungubwe Unesco World Heritage site are on hold, but environmentalists are happy that should the mining go ahead, they have negotiated a deal that protects the area’s living and cultural heritage.

In the Mapungubwe Valley, shortly after the death of Christ, there lived an African civilization that was so advanced that it mined gold, crafted it into beautiful jewelry and artifacts, and traded goods with people as far as from China.

According to Munyardadzi Manyanga, an academic from the University of Zimbabwe who has spent 20 years studying Mapungubwe, “We believe it to be the earliest known state system in Southern Africa where we have clear evidence that society had become stratified. When we look at the burials at Mapungubwe, the gold artifacts buried there – that distinction between what we call elite burials and commoner burials does demonstrate that societies in Southern Africa became stratified.”

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