Fortifications in Mukaranga, northern Zimbabwe (1600-1700 AD): a socio-political perspective

Author(s): Innocent Pikirayi

Year: 2015


Portuguese written sources mention ‘great stone buildings’ including state capitals and fortified hilltops and trading centres in their accounts of the Kingdom of ‘Monomotapa’ (Mutapa State) in northern Zimbabwe in the late 16th and 17th centuries. On the one hand, feiras, the trading centres frequented by the Portuguese, served primarily commercial functions, and only fortified themselves when confronted with external military threats. On the other, the monumental, stone- built structures sited on hills and mountains in the area between the Mazowe and Ruya valleys – a region also referred to in written sources as Mukaranga, the original heartland of the Mutapa State – seem to have been constructed by rebels who disrupted the feira trade. The archaeological evidence from these fortifications suggest these structures served more than defensive purposes, playing critical social and political roles that subsequently replaced a well-established state system in the region.

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Cite this Record

Fortifications in Mukaranga, northern Zimbabwe (1600-1700 AD): a socio-political perspective. Innocent Pikirayi. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396197)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;