Palaces of Stone

Uncovering ancient southern African kingdoms

Mike Main, Thomas Huffman

Across southern Africa are more than 460 remarkable stone palaces. These include the more famous world heritage sites of Great Zimbabwe, Khami Ruins and Mapungubwe, but many are as yet unknown.
Date Published :
June 2021
Publisher :
Penguin Random House South Africa
Illustration :
170 illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781775846147
Pages : 176
Dimensions : 8.26 X 5.83 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Across the face of southern Africa are more than 460 remarkable stone palaces, once the abodes of kings. Some are small, others ramble, but many are absolutely astonishing: all are the legacy of kingdoms past.

Palaces of Stone brings to life the story of these early African societies, from AD 900 to approximately 1850. Some, such as Great Zimbabwe and Khami in Zimbabwe and Mapungubwe in South Africa, are famous world heritage sites, but the majority are unknown to the general public, unsung and unappreciated. Yet, the stone ruins that have survived tell a common story of innovative architecture and intricate stonework; flourishing local economies; long-distance travel; global trade; and emerging forms of political organisation.

By exploring a selection of known and unknown sites, Palaces of Stone reimagines the apparently empty spaces bequeathed to us by history, an Africa of places that once hummed with life. All that remains now are the ruins – a bedrock from which to unravel the past and understand the present.

About The Author

Thomas N. Huffman is Professor Emeritus of archaeology in association with the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He specialises in pre-colonial farming societies in southern Africa and has written and contributed to a wide range of publications, including the highly acclaimed books, Snakes & Crocodiles: Power and Symbolism in Ancient Zimbabwe and Handbook to the Iron Age: The Archaeology of Pre-colonial Farming Societies in Southern Africa.


1. Early beginnings at Schroda
2. From K2 to Mapungubwe
3. Rainmaking
4. The End of Mapungubwe
5. Great Zimbabwe in Modern Times
6. The Growth of Great Zimbabwe
7. Symbolism
8. Administration and Trade in the Zimbabwe Culture
9. The Khami, Danangombe and Mutapa States
10. The End of an Era

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