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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Towards a History of Cultivating the Fields
Author:Sutton, John E.G.ISNI
Periodical:Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa (ISSN 1945-5534)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Ethiopia
Subsaharan Africa
Subjects:agricultural history
land use
agricultural land
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Development and Technology
History and Exploration
Anthropology and Archaeology
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Agriculture, Agronomy, Forestry
cultivation systems
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00672708909511401
Abstract:Fields and cultivation techniques form parts of their social and environmental milieus. All such systems have their social and ecological peculiarities, all have in a sense specialized as they adapted over time. Against the background of this approach, the author examines the conventional dichotomy made in studies of agricultural systems and cultivation techniques between the 'intensive' and the 'extensive', and the assumption frequently made in Africa that extensive cultivation has been the norm, and that the examples of 'intensive' practices recorded here and there - notably terracing of fields, manuring through stall-feeding of livestock and artificial irrigation - require special explanations. The author argues that agricultural systems generally characterized as 'extensive' often indude 'specialized' or 'intensive' techniques. He illustrates his argument with examples of present and past integrated systems of specialized agricultural techniques in Konso (southern Ethiopia), Nyanga (eastern Zimbabwe), and Engaruka (Tanzania). The case of Engaruka is used as an example of ultraspecialization and a virtually absolute dependence on irrigation from small mountain streams, which rendered the community and its uniquely integrated agricultural system particularly vulnerable in the long run. Around 1700 AD Engaruka collapsed. In conclusion, existing and recent East African examples of flexibility and less intense specialization are presented. Notes, ref.