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Elites and commoners at Great Zimbabwe: archaeological and ethnographic insights on social power

  • Shadreck Chirikure (a1), Robert Nyamushosho (a1), Foreman Bandama (a1) and Collet Dandara (a2)


Archaeological indicators of inequality at major historic centres of power have long been poorly understood. This paper is the first to address the archaeology of class and inequality at Great Zimbabwe (AD 1000–1700) from an African-centred viewpoint. Data from new excavations, combined with insights from Shona philosophy, practice and ethnography, suggest that the categories of ‘elite’ and ‘commoner’ were situational and transient, and that they require a more robust theorisation than that currently adopted for the site. The results provide a valuable study for the comparative archaeology of ancient cities, differing in many ways from established interpretive frameworks in global archaeology.


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Elites and commoners at Great Zimbabwe: archaeological and ethnographic insights on social power

  • Shadreck Chirikure (a1), Robert Nyamushosho (a1), Foreman Bandama (a1) and Collet Dandara (a2)


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