Skip to main content

The famous golden rhino, with upright tail. It's about 43 grams, and 152 millimeters long. It was assembled by pleating two sheets of gold foil or plate, and shaping them over a sculptured wooden core by folding and creasing. It was restored by the British Museum in 1999.

1 of 8

This object was originally believed to be a gold bowl, but it's now thought to be a headdress, since it was found near the cranium of a skeleton. It weighs 98 grams and is 144 millimetres in diameter. It may have been created from a single piece of gold foil, hammered out and folded up into a hemispherical shape, and probably affixed later with decorative embellishments.

2 of 8

This gold bovine figure is probably a domestic bull or cow. It's about 70 grams in weight and 125 millimetres in length. Its craftsman chose to create it with an asymmetrical head and downturned ears (or horns).

3 of 8

This gold feline figure is believed to be a leopard in a stalking position. It weighs 48 grams and is 150 millimetres in length. It has four rows of engraved ribs, and its back legs are tucked under its body. It was restored from about 36 fragments.

4 of 8

More than 12,000 gold beads were found at a single burial site on Mapungubwe Hill. Many of them were strung into beaded necklaces, depicting social status, especially for female members of royalty. The average weight of the necklaces was 124 grams.

5 of 8

This sceptre, or mace, has two parts: a twisted stem, formed from one sheet of gold; and a circular knob, formed from a gold sheet that was shaped and pleated into a circular shape. It would have originally been assembled with a carved wooden object. It weighs 27 grams.

6 of 8

Mapungubwe Hill is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site at a national park along South Africa's border with Botswana and Zimbabwe. The Golden Rhino and these other artifacts were discovered on this hilltop in 1933.

7 of 8

The new interpretive centre at Mapungubwe national park in South Africa's Limpopo province opened in Janury, 2012 with an exhibit of artifacts on loan from the University of Pretoria. The centre won the 2009 World Building of the Year Award at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona.

8 of 8