The rise of complex societies in the Limpopo Valley has received much attention over the years. The development and functioning of socio-political centres, such as Mapungubwe, has been the chief focus. Mapungubwe elite are believed to have controlled access to high status items within the Shashe-Limpopo Confluence Area (SCLA). Thus exotic trade goods, including glass beads and cowrie shells, and non-utilitarian metal items have been associated with elite status within the SCLA. These items do, however, appear at sites in the hinterland which necessitates a re-examination of previous assumptions about the control over ‘prestige goods’ on the larger landscape. This dissertation focusses on five small Middle Iron Age sites (AD 900 to 1300) in the Middle Limpopo Valley. The analysis of the small finds, glass and disk beads, non-utilitarian metal and spindle whorls, of each site provides insight into the activities taking place at a site level. The data generated in this work provides a starting block from which new understandings of hinterland can be built.
Key words: Mapungubwe, hinterland, small finds, prestige goods, trade, southern Africa.