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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In this article, social complexity refers to the development of social formations synonymous with ranked forms of organisation that appeared south of the Zambezi from the late first millennium AD. As this happened, some societies were mobilised under political leadership in order to build public works and produce surplus food for people living in urban centres. Political leaders were also able to levy taxes from trade goods to generate surplus wealth that was used to finance public projects such as stonewalled monumental buildings. This article discusses chiefdom and states in southern Zambezia, from Toutswe (700–1300) and Mapungubwe (1200–1300) in the Shashe–Limpopo Basin. States are ultimately political and socio-economic experiments that to a large measure are highly authoritative and consumptive. As such, they are bound to fail, disbanding, collapsing, or declining because of the strain that they exert on their subjects.

Keywords: Zambezi, social complexity, chiefdom, urban centres, Toutswe, Mapungubwe

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