The Role of Hydrological Changes and Human Integration in Semi-Arid Landscapes of Mapungubwe, Shashe-Limpopo Basin, South Africa

Bongumenzi Nxumalo

Columbia University

Friday, November 12, 2021 1:00 pm EST

Online Event

Event Description
Bongumenzi Nxumalo will be presenting his research on the role of hydrological changes and the demise of southern Africa’s earliest state-society: Mapungubwe (1200–1300 CE) in the Shashe-Limpopo basin, South Africa. The rise and demise of Mapungubwe has long been linked to significant climate changes: increased rainfall would have supported intensive agro-pastoral activities and demographic growth, later declining due to the onset of drier conditions. This model is based on archaeological survey records and oral histories, with very limited regional climatic/environmental data. A number of studies combining historical data, climatic sequences, geoarchaeological investigation, and Geographic Information Systems modeling showed that, within major climatic trends worldwide, landscapes often experience different conditions at the local scale. Thus, hydrological changes in the Shashe-Limpopo basin are highly influenced by seasonal variability (e.g., excessive flooding) and distribution of rainfall. New research examined hydrological changes at Mapungubwe using advanced morphometric analysis and hydrological modeling of past rainfall regimes to understand how prehistoric societies in sub-Saharan Africa could have interacted with the changing landscapes.
Event Speaker
Bongumenzi Nxumalo, Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Pretoria
Event Information
Free and open to the public; Registration is required. For more information, please contact Jessie Cohen at
Part of the History and Climate Change workshop series hosted by the Environmental Sciences and Humanities Research Cluster and co-funded by the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
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