november, 2021

12nov1:00 pm- 2:00 pmBongumenzi Nxumalo - "Hydrological Changes and Human Integration in Semi-arid Landscapes of Mapungubwe, Shashe-Limpopo Basin, South Africa"


Event Details

A virtual event with Dr. Bongumenzi Nxumalo, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology

and Archaeology, University of Pretoria

Friday, November 12, 1:00-2:00pm on Zoom

This presentation will focus on the role of hydrological changes and the demise of southern Africa’s earliest state-society: Mapungubwe (1200–1300 AD) 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. Accordingly, during the Little Ice Age (1300-1850 AD), drier and cooler climate resulted in environmental deterioration, ultimately leading to the abandonment of the archaeological site of Mapungubwe. 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 modelling 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 (Nxumalo 2016). While this study produced the first local datasets on hydrological changes in the region, how these affected past communities remains unclear. Building on these results, the author’s doctoral research examined hydrological changes at Mapungubwe using advanced morphometric analysis, hydrological modelling of past rainfall regimes to understand how prehistoric societies in sub-Saharan Africa could have interacted with the changing landscapes.

Co-Chairs: Rhiannon Stephens and Jason E. Smerdon

Student Rapporteur: Jessie Cohen

Register using the URL below

History and Climate Change: Africa, Indigenous and Latin America, and South Asia is co-sponsored by the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy,  the Center for Science and Society, and the Center for Archaeology, Columbia University


(Friday) 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EST


Zoom meeting

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MC 5523
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