oa Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy - Ancient mining and Zimbabwe

Volume 74, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 0038-223X



Ancient gold mining and Zimbabwe have been commonly associated for over a hundred years, either in terms of an exotic colony for gold export or as an African state based on the East Coast trade. The stratigraphy and rad iocarbon dates from Zimbabwe and the known sequence for the Rhodesian Iron Age demonstrate that Zimbabwe was built after A.D. 1000. A review of the evidence for ancient gold mining shows a similar antiquity, and a complementary rise in prosperity in Arab settlements on the East Coast indicates that gold was not extensively mined until the eleventh century. Large quantities of imported articles at Zimbabwe indicate the extent of trading during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the origins of Zimbabwe probably lay in an overflow of wealth from the gold trade during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Zimbabwe was abandoned by the sixteenth century because of environmental factors.

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