History, Early Civilizations
herding cattle, mining gold, capitals, stone building, plateau
About 2,000 years ago Iron Age peoples established themselves on the plateau, developing a series of distinctive pottery styles, herding cattle, and mining gold and copper that they traded with peoples of the coast. These people were the ancestors of the modern Shona population. About the 11th century ad the first stone building began, and this rapidly developed into a distinctive and impressive architectural style. Stone building reached its first peak in the city of Great Zimbabwe, which was built between the 11th and 15th centuries.
By the 11th century the population was grouped in small village communities that were ruled over by dynasties of chiefs, called Karanga. The major Karanga chiefs built their capitals in stone and by the 15th century they controlled the trade in gold to the coast of present-day Mozambique. The most important of the chieftaincies were Mwene Mutapa in the Mazoe River valley, Chicanga in the Inyanga highlands, and Quiteve in the Mozambique lowlands. These states established gold-trading fairs in their territory, which attracted traders from the coast.
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