History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

3. What can we learn from the archaeological finds at Mapungubwe?

This lesson introduces students to medieval African history.

It focuses on the excavated remains found at one important site in modern-day South Africa.

Students first encounter the ‘Golden Rhinoceros’.

This was one of the objects that was excavated at Mapungubwe, and upon which a number of claims have been based about the social and political organisation of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe.

Students then study a number of the excavated items, considering what they have to tell us about trade; politics and leaders; and culture and beliefs in medieval Africa.

Then, they make broader inferences about the people of Mapungubwe, referring to a ‘word wall’ to help them put forward sophisticated claims of their own.

Finally, students respond to historian Francois-Xavier Fauvelle and his argument about the difficulty of constructing a history of medieval Africa, outlining the significance of the finds at Mapungubwe.


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  • Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
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