Abstract The Vumba site, an early Khami period commoner settlement, is interpreted using the K-means clustering procedure and analogy with the historically related Shona culture. Analysis concentrated on the 108 granary platforms. Two levels of clustering are interpreted to represent subdivisions in the settlement, corresponding to compounds of polygamous family units and smaller subdivisions, each a set of granaries owned by one adult. It is found that the elements of the Southern Bantu Cattle Complex are arranged so that the location of the various features symbolizes the oppositions between men and women, seniors and juniors, and the central role of cattle in society. In contrast, the spatial organization of elite sites of the Khami period reflects the power of the Mambo and reinforces class distinctions within the state organization.