The Mapungubwe Hill Cultural landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site has some well-preserved remains of the lives of the ruling class. Excavations began in the 1930s with the discovery of 27 graves, of which three contained gold items.
An elderly person was interred with more than 100 gold wire bracelets, another with a gold scepter. Buried in traditional Iron Age style, seated, facing west. A small gold rhino was also found, made from a wooden core with thin gold sheets secured with gold tacks. Fragments of two other gold rhinos were found in the graves. The significance is unknown.
Mapungubwe’s decline was likely due to aridity around 1300 CE and the population dispersed who traditional farming could not sustain them. This is also believed to have contributed to the rise of the Great Zimbabwe north of Mapungubwe although it is believed both kingdoms existed for at least a century.