Thulamela is a stone walled site is situated in the Far North region of the Park and dates back to approximately 450 – 500 years before present (BP). This late Iron Age site forms part of what is called the Zimbabwe culture which is believed to have started at Mapungubwe. Mapungubwe’s decline coincided with the increase of Great Zimbabwe’s importance. When Great Zimbabwe was abandoned about 300 years later, possibly due to political break down, several groups moved south across the Limpopo river into the North Eastern areas of South Africa (and Northern Kruger) and established new smaller chiefdoms such as Thulamela.
Trade was an integral part of life at Thulamela and trade networks extended though the interior of the continent to include Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Central Africa (evidence given by the iron gong on the site).
The site was most probably chosen due to the fertile soils of the area where various kinds of sorghum and millets were farmed. The grains from these crops would be ground to be used for porridge and beer. Clay spindle wheels would suggest that cotton was also cultivated for making cloth. The spindles were used to spin the thread by the women while men would weave the thread on low flat looms fixed to the ground. While the Khosi lived in a stone walled palace on top of a hillside, the commoners most probably lived near their fields