For over nine hundred years the African inhabitants of South Central Africa engaged in the production and trading of gold. The attention of archaeologists and historians, however, has focused mainly on gold reef mining. By comparison, alluvial goldwashing has been neglected, although it was practised by Africans both before and after the period during which they exploited gold reef mines. Probably at its greatest volume between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, the gold trade thereafter declined, but the mining and trading of alluvial gold continued to be relatively important in the nineteenth century in what is now north-eastern Rhodesia. Largely a seasonal activity, goldwashing was normally washing was increasingly subject to interference and attempted suppression as settlers sought t o exploit alluvial areas themselves and force Africans into wage labour. This attempted suppression did not always have the intended results but may be seen generally as part of the wider structural underdevelopment of the African peasantry and precolonial industries in Southern Rhodesia.