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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Nyanga Terrace Complex of Eastern Zimbabwe: New Investigations
Author:Soper, Robert
Periodical:Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa (ISSN 1945-5534)
Notes:biblio. refs., ills., maps
Geographic terms:Zimbabwe
Southern Africa
agricultural history
Anthropology and Archaeology
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History, Archaeology
Agricultural systems
Nyanga (Zimbabwe)
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00672709609511455
Abstract:The Nyanga complex, which is situated in eastern Zimbabwe, is one of the most impressive concentrations of stone structures in Africa. It covers many thousands of hectares of hillside terracing and valley cultivation ridges, with associated hydraulic works and settlement structures, ranging from individual homesteads to large complexes of ruins. It encapsulates the principal features and agricultural practices of a forgotten society. The archaeological project of which the author is field director focuses on the agricultural systems represented by the terracing. To gain an understanding of this, it is necessary to achieve a broader knowledge of the cultural background to the complex as a whole. The author looks first at the various sorts of stone structures: cultivation ridges, water furrows, homesteads, forts, hilltop ruin complexes. He then examines the dating (from early sixteenth century to early nineteenth century) using radiocarbon, pottery, beads, and climate. He then turns to agricultural systems: livestock and crops and cultivation. The paucity of imported items suggests relative isolation. There must have been a large population to carry out the work. Was the surplus production traded? If so, where are the exchange goods? The people may have practised transhumation. There was some minor social ranking, suggested by the regular occupation of the forts. Bibliogr.