The Past in the Present: The Zimbabwe Culture Archaeological Heritage in Western Zimbabwe

Typical Zimbabwe culture architecture, Bumbuzi site in Hwange National Park Plan Shenjere-Nyabezi, All rights reserved

Archaeological, ethnohistorical and cultural heritage management research will be carried out at the three important and major Zimbabwe Tradition stone walled enclosures Bumbuzi, Mtoa, and Shangano located in the north western part of Zimbabwe. Although some historical research has been carried out in the area, resulting in the projection of links being drawn between the sites and the development of the important pre-colonial Nambya state in the area, very limited archaeological work has been conducted at the sites and indeed in north western Zimbabwe.


Despite its national and regional significance, it is notable that comparatively not as much research has been carried out on the Zimbabwe Tradition across the country. The main research focus has concentrated on the major site of Great Zimbabwe itself and to some extent Khami. For other parts of the country such as eastern Zimbabwe and north western Zimbabwe, meaningful archaeological research has yet to be undertaken. This has resulted in not only geographical research imbalance but perhaps more important, major interpretative and chronological generalisation based on the results of research work in the bettern known areas. It is against this background that our research focusses on North Western Zimbabwe.

Important issues include expanding our knowledge of the Zimbabwe tradition, bridging the knowledge gap between ethnohistory and archaeology, as well as community involvement in archaeological heritage management. The latter is particularly important because the Nambya people of north western Zimbabwe hold very strong cultural and historical attachments to the targeted Zimbabwe Tradition stone buildings in north western Zimbabwe. Their oral histories suggest that the sites were successive capitals of the Nambya state. However, this has yet to be investigated by archaeological research, using chronological as well as material culture evidence.

The relationship between environment and cultural remains a major concern in archaeological research. Through the recovery of relevant scientific data, the research further aims at environmental reconstruction in ordert o investigate possible links between socio-political and economic development, particularly the growth of complex societies and changing environmental and climatic regimes in the past.


Methodological approaches will include site surveys, geophysical work and excavations, documentation of oral histories among the Nambya as well as their involvement in the archaeological research and interpretation.