Peasants, Chiefs and Kings: A Model of the Development of Cultural Complexity in Northern Zimbabwe

This article, which is based on archaeological research, examines the nature and causes of sociocultural changes that took place amongst prehistoric farming communities in northern Zimbabwe, in an area defined by the Manyame River to the west and south, the Mazowe River to the east and the Zambezi to the north. Farming was established in northern Zimbabwe by the fifth century AD as a result of human population movements from further north. For the greater part of the first millennium AD, the early farmers were organized as nonstratified village communities. Early in the second millennium AD, complex forms of sociopolitical organization developed in northern Zimbabwe. The author argues that rather than migration, the development of complexity was initially the result of changes in economic practices, ideology and population increase. The development of chiefdoms is associated with populations of the Musengezi tradition who, in the 15th century, became subjects of the Mutapa State. This was a secondary State, resulting from the northward expansion of the Great Zimbabwe tradition. Bibliogr., sum.

Title: Peasants, Chiefs and Kings: A Model of the Development of Cultural Complexity in Northern Zimbabwe
Author: Pwiti, Gilbert
Year: 1996
Periodical: Zambezia
Volume: 23
Issue: 1
Pages: 31-52
Language: English
Notes: biblio. refs., maps
Geographic terms: Zimbabwe
Southern Africa
External link: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/africanjournals/html/itemdetail.cfm?recordID=1257
Abstract: This article, which is based on archaeological research, examines the nature and causes of sociocultural changes that took place amongst prehistoric farming communities in northern Zimbabwe, in an area defined by the Manyame River to the west and south, the Mazowe River to the east and the Zambezi to the north. Farming was established in northern Zimbabwe by the fifth century AD as a result of human population movements from further north. For the greater part of the first millennium AD, the early farmers were organized as nonstratified village communities. Early in the second millennium AD, complex forms of sociopolitical organization developed in northern Zimbabwe. The author argues that rather than migration, the development of complexity was initially the result of changes in economic practices, ideology and population increase. The development of chiefdoms is associated with populations of the Musengezi tradition who, in the 15th century, became subjects of the Mutapa State. This was a secondary State, resulting from the northward expansion of the Great Zimbabwe tradition. Bibliogr., sum.