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EXCERPT | Imagining Mapungubwe – new book goes into the southern African historical archives

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Item recovered from ancient site of Mapungubwe Hill, Northern Province, South Africa. (Photo: Roger de la Harpe/Gallo Images)
Item recovered from ancient site of Mapungubwe Hill, Northern Province, South Africa. (Photo: Roger de la Harpe/Gallo Images)

BOOK: Archives of Times Past: Conversations about South Africa’s Deep History (Wits University Press)

Historians who specialise in researching early history have learnt to use a wide range of materials from the past as source materials. What are these materials? Where can we find them? Who made them? What are the problems with using them? The essays  in Archives of Times Past: Conversations about South Africa’s Deep History (Wits University Press) explore particular sources of evidence on southern Africa’s time before the colonial era. Edited by Cynthia Kros, John Wright, Mbongiseni Buthelezi and Helen Ludlow, these essays are by well-known historians, archaeologists and researchers engaging these questions from a range of perspectives and in illuminating ways. Written from personal experience, they capture how these specialists encountered their archives of knowledge beyond the textbook. In this piece drawing on a chapter in Archives of Times Past, Himal Ramji, a PhD student in history at the University of Cape Town, looks at the ways Mapungubwe has been dealt with in historical discourse.

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