Khami and the Venda in the Mapungubwe Landscape

Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 School of Geography, Archaeology & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand
  • 2 School of Geography, Archaeology & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

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In the Mapungubwe landscape, the Khami phase grades into the historic Venda period. Khami occupation, however, differs markedly from recent Venda settlement. Among the differences, rainfall was more consistent in the 15th and 16th centuries, and the Limpopo Valley supported several thousand people living on cattle posts and in agricultural villages. In contrast, 19th century Venda capitals virtually housed the entire chiefdom, totalling only some 350 people. A slow process of acculturation led the Venda-speaking Machete chiefdom to become Sotho. When Mapungubwe was discovered in the early 1930s, the chiefdom had already disintegrated, and the people spoke Sotho.

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