Copper in Zimbabwe

  • Lorraine SwanEmail author
Living reference work entry

Early farming communities in central and southern Africa were aware of mineral resources. Iron and copper have been extracted and used since the beginnings of farming in the region in the first millennium AD. The use of gold in particular and tin to a limited extent developed later as economic resources for social hierarchies that began to emerge at the beginning of the second millennium AD. Dubbed the “red gold of Africa” (Herbert, 1984), copper in the Zimbabwean archaeological record contrasts with gold. Gold was mined on a large scale, primarily for export via the east coast Indian Ocean trade network, with limited local use by elite of the second millennium political hierarchy on the Zimbabwean plateau and in the Limpopo valley. Copper on the other hand was mined for local use as items of personal adornment and as symbols of wealth and position among the socially elite.


Precolonial mine workings existed on the Central African Copper Belt (Bisson, 1976) the copper-bearing...


Fourteenth Century Tool Mark Subsistence Requirement Trade Item Copper Artifact 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BuderimAustralia