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Mpumalanga is an ancient land, with evidence of human habitation stretching back 100 000 years, and the first major kingdoms and mining empires beginning 46 000 years ago. The region's pre-colonial history is, however, still largely unexplored. Its ruined cities, cave paintings, royal tombs, and ancient trade routes are only now being recorded by archaeologists, historians and anthropologists. This 'black' history was in the past largely ignored by Apartheid era historians, who contended that black inhabitants only arrived in South Africa as recently as 500 years ago -- and did not therefore have better claims to the land than white settlers. The vacuum has provided fertile ground for both revisionist and populist historians, who have used the region's mysterious stone ruins and mountain top 'observatories' to speculate about ancient lost cultures.