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Mapungubwe Museum at the University of Pretoria

Mapungubwe means "place of the stone of wisdom"

Where is it and what is it all about?

The remains of this ancient society, now known as the Kingdom of Mapungubwe, lay forgotten for seven centuries until its chance discovery in 1933. Since then, much has been written about this flourishing Iron Age metropolis on the Limpopo river that was ruled by an African king almost a thousand years ago.

The area was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 and the Mapungubwe National Park was opened to the public in 2004.

The famous Golden Rhino, found in a one of three royal graves at Mapungubwe, is evidence the peoples' metalworking skills and trade with the East - as the rhino has a single horn like the Asian variety. The golden rhinoceros, about 12 cm long and 6 cm high, is made of a thin sheet of gold foil tacked around a core wooden carving.

Other items that have been excavated include beautifully decorated clay pots, wooden spoons, whistles, funnels, and spindle whorls used to spin the cotton they grew. Thousands of gold and glass beads were also found.

The golden rhino and many more artefacts from Mapungubwe can be seen at the Mapungubwe Museum, in the Old Arts Building on the campus of the University of Pretoria. It is open weekdays from 10:00 - 16:00 or by appointment; tel: (012) 420-3146.

More information

For more information contact Mapungubwe National Park at (015) 534-2014 or visit