Original Research

Architectural traditions of Mapungubwe and Bambandyanalo (K2)

Andrie Meyer, Chris Cloete
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 6, No 1 | a115 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v6i1.115 | © 2010 Andrie Meyer, Chris Cloete | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 March 2016 | Published: 04 April 2010

About the author(s)

Andrie Meyer, Department of Construction Economics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa
Chris Cloete, Department of Construction Economics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa

Full Text:



This article is concerned with the identification of culturally significant architectural structures and features on the archaeological sites Mapungubwe and K2, two 11th to 13th Century AD African capitals in the current Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. The objective of the article is to identify the typical architectural structures and features of the two sites, based on the original archaeological field research reports of the University of Pretoria (UP) as a primary source of information, for the purposes of architectural reconstruction and educational presentation. The archaeological field reports in the Mapungubwe Archive at UP are briefly reviewed as primary sources of information. Previous archaeological research of the University on Mapungubwe and K2 since 1933 resulted in the establishment of the Mapungubwe Museum and Archive at UP in 2000 where the field records are kept, and in the current reconstruction, interpretation and presentation of the architecture of Mapungubwe and K2 for the educational displays of the Museum. Observed remains of architectural structures and features on Mapungubwe include single free-standing stonewalls; terrace stonewalls, some of which are constructed with steps; stone platforms; stone mortar blocks and mortar hollows on exposed sandstone surfaces; circular stone structures; sets of game-hollows in rock surfaces; and on both sites the remains of circular pole and daub structures varying from small granaries to larger veranda type structures; as well as evidence of palisades and stockade type kraal structures. These architectural structures and features will be reconstructed and their cultural significance explained with the application of trans- disciplinary methodology in further research.


African; architecture; Bahananwa; circular pole and daub structures; cone on cylinder; granary; K2; Limpopo; Maleboho; Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape; World Heritage Site; Mapungubwe Hill; Mapungubwe Museum; mortar block; rondavel; Southern Terrace


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1. Plant use in southern Africa’s Middle Iron Age: the archaeobotany of Mutamba
Bianca Steyn, Alexander Antonites
Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa  vol: 54  issue: 3  first page: 350  year: 2019  
doi: 10.1080/0067270X.2019.1644018