Grade 6 - Term 1: Kingdoms of southern Africa: Mapungubwe, Thulamela and Great Zimbabwe


This topic describes the history of the southern African kingdoms of Mapungubwe, Thulamela and Great Zimbabwe with a special look at how they were organised and the role played by cattle, gold and ivory in these societies.

During the early days of the last millennium several great Iron Age kingdoms existed in southern Africa. Thulamela, Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe were all established as centres of agriculture, but developed into trading nations, exchanging goods with Arab and Portuguese merchants through East African harbours. Cattle, ivory and gold were important trading goods and key to the survival of these kingdoms.

We are first going to examine what an ‘Iron Age Kingdom’ is. We will then look at each of the three Kingdoms (Thulamela, Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe) individually.

Note: Some grade 6 sections are under construction and still link to old content. Also note, there may be minor changes to the curriculum from year to year, teachers always check with your Curriculum Advisor and students, check with your teacher.

Last updated : 27-Feb-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 27-May-2011

Support South African History Online

Dear friends of SAHO

South African History Online (SAHO) needs your support.

SAHO is one of the most visited websites in South Africa with over 6 million unique users a year. Our goal is to fulfill our mandate and continue to build, and make accessible, a new people’s history of South Africa and Africa.

Please help us deliver this by contributing upwards of $1.00 a month for the next 12 months.

Make a donation here and send us a message of support.