Original Research

Mapungubwe: an historical and contemporary analysis of a World Heritage cultural landscape

Jane Carruthers
Koedoe | Vol 49, No 1 | a89 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v49i1.89 | © 2006 Jane Carruthers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 December 2006 | Published: 18 December 2006

About the author(s)

Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa, South Africa

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The Mapungubwe World Heritage cultural landscape, situated on the farm Greefswald at the junction of the Limpopo and Shashi rivers on the border of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, falls under the management of South African National Parks. This article presents a close examination of contemporary and historical issues around the inscription of the site and argues that the value of places is not self-evident but that significance is culturally constructed. This, as is explained here in respect of Mapungubwe, has changed over time and has been imposed by the concerns, aspirations and values of society at a specific time and within a specific context. Basic facts about Mapungubwe
are provided and its importance as a contemporary economic and cultural driver is outlined. A brief history of Mapungubwe’s inclusion in a national park from 1947 to 1949 is presented, as is the archaeological science that it spawned. The effect that the inscription of Mapungubwe may have on elevating South Africa’s international profile and on African national pride is described.


Mapungubwe; World Heritage; Cultural landscape; National park; Archaeology; History


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