Ceramics, metal craft and settlement in south-eastern Zimbabwe since ca 1400AD

The project started in 1998 and is a cooperation of institutions in Sweden (KFL; UV-Syd in Lund and UV GAL in Uppsala, National Heritage Board and MAL Department of Archaeology, Umeå) and Zimbabwe (National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe; History Department and the Department of Agriculture and Soil Sciences, University of Zimbabwe).

The aim of the project is to study traditional technologies and settlement patterns from the stone building traditions of the 15th century to the Shona settlements of today. To date two Great Zimbabwe- tradition ruins have been thoroughly mapped and excavations have been carried out at these two ruins and at three un-walled settlements.

Stone wall at Zimbabwe

Stone wall at entrance to King's House at Kagumbudzi

Samples of the pottery and metal materials found at these excavations have been analysed at laboratories in Sweden (KFL and GAL). Soil samples from these sites and their surroundings have been analysed at the department of Agriculture and Soil Sciences, University of Zimbabwe.

In connection with the excavations, local traditional potting and black-smithing has been studied. Extensive surveys and phosphate mapping of targeted areas have been performed and a large number of smaller and larger prehistoric settlements have been located. One important means to link present and past is the recording of oral history. As part of this, chiefs, headmen and their relatives in especially Buhera district have been interviewed. Individual objects as well as finds’ contexts, in combination with approximately 35 samples dated by means of AMS 14C-dating, were paired with the results of surveys and oral history.  This work has already given us a new view of the interaction between Great Zimbabwe and the satellites, and the settlement pattern during the Great Zimbabwe period.

The first report from this project was published in 2000. The results have been presented at several international conferences. (Lindahl et al 2000; Lindahl 2003; 2004)

Pdf-file with more extensive description

Anders Lindahl

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