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Ancient rulers’ remains to return to royal graves

The Mapungubwe people will be officially recognised tomorrow as descendants of the iron-smelting warriors and gold merchants who lived near modern-day Musina over 1000 years ago.

A ceremony will be held to symbolically hand over the remains of the ancient rulers who were buried in royal graves on Mapungubwe Hill, at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers.

Next month, the remains will be handed over for safekeeping in an interpretation centre in Mapungubwe National Park, where a mountain-top citadel still stands guard over ancient baobab trees.

“That will be just the beginning of many things. (We are) in the process of releasing gold work to the interpretation centre at Mapungubwe,” said environmental and tourism department spokesperson Mava Scott.

The pieces will include the famous, exquisitely crafted tiny golden rhino, a gold sceptre and gold bowl.

The Mapungubwe kingdom traded with the people of China, India, Egypt and Persia in bangles, spoons, whistles, funnels, ivory, bone, pottery, wood and shells at about 1200 AD.

“Mapungubwe’s history has traces of… African brilliance and entrepreneurship, but it is only now that the descendants of such a colossal kingdom are being officially recognised,” said Scott.

Archaeologists made the discoveries in 1933. The remains and artefacts have been in the curatorship of the University of Pretoria, the University of the Witwatersrand and the Northern Flagship Institution.

Tswarelo Eseng Mogakane, City Press

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