McIntosh and Fagan (above) write that “For 45 years, Ingombe Ilede has been viewed as a key nexus linking the Copperbelt and Great Zimbabwe”. Some regional specialists have not believed this since the publication of Swan's (2007) important review of the sizes and shapes of prehistoric copper ingots found in modern Zimbabwe. Swan noted that both of the ingot moulds found at Great Zimbabwe (which have a clear stylistic connection to the Copperbelt) are of the earlier HIH style (ninth to fourteenth centuries AD; de Maret 1995; Nikis & Livingstone Smith in press). But neither the later HXR-style copper ingots (fourteenth to seventeenth centuries)—some of which were excavated at Ingombe Ilede—nor the moulds to make them have been found on a Zimbabwe tradition site. The distribution of HXR ingots within the modern nation of Zimbabwe is almost exclusively in the north, within the former territory of the Mutapa state (Swan 2007: fig. 2). The clear implication is that the HXR ingot style—and thus the elite burials at Ingombe Ilede—post-date the breakup of the state ruled from Great Zimbabwe, which gave birth to the Mutapa (northern) and Torwa (southern) states. The new radiocarbon dates by McIntosh and Fagan provide welcome confirmation of this inference.
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