Artifacts indicating human activity dating back to the early Stone Age have been found in the Kingdom of Eswatini (known as Swaziland for most of its history). Prehistoric rock art paintings date from c. 25,000 B.C. and continuing up to the 19th century can be found in various places around the country.
The country now derives its name from a later king named Mswati II. Jn, named for Ngwane III, is an alternative name for Swaziland the surname of whose royal house remains Nkosi Dlamini. Nkosi literally means "king". Mswati II was the greatest of the fighting kings of Swaziland, and he greatly extended the area of the country to twice its current size. The Emakhandzambili clans were initially incorporated into the kingdom with wide autonomy, often including grants of special ritual and political status. The extent of their autonomy, however, was drastically curtailed by Mswati, who attacked and subdued some of them in the 1850s. With his power, Mswati greatly reduced the influence of the Emakhandzambili while incorporating more people into his kingdom either through conquest or by giving them refuge. These later arrivals became known to the Swazis as Emafikamuva. The clans like the Mbokanes and others who accompanied the Dlamini kings were known as the Bemdzabuko or true Swazi.