AMS Dates and the Chronology of Great Zimbabwe

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 School of Geography, Archaeology & Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, PO Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 2 iThemba LABS, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Salvage excavations in the 1970s uncovered a sizeable commoner occupation at Great Zimbabwe, as well as evidence for the early construction of an elite stonewalled enclosure. As a result of these excavations, we can revise somewhat the chronology of Great Zimbabwe. The most important changes are the extension of Period IVa, lasting from AD 1285±10 to 1395±10, and the appearance of P, P/Q and Q-coursed walling in Period IVa. The small Nemanwa palace was built in P/Q and first dates to Period IVa, as does the Outer Perimeter Wall, and both were linked to the growth of the Zimbabwe state. Period IVb represents the floruit of Great Zimbabwe, while Period IVc encompasses the occupation after the political elite moved north to become the well-known Mutapa dynasty. After the move north, the Mutapa established a masungiro ritual centre at Great Zimbabwe, perhaps to maintain territorial rights in the face of Torwa expansion.

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