Farmlands, or agricultural landscapes, captures the interest of a number of researchers based at the Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University. On this blog we share information about research findings, activities, events and comments related to our work.

Our interest in farmlands has three roots: farming, landscape and society.
Farming as a practice, including farmers knowledge and labour investments
Landscape as society-nature relations, congealed history, and as space and place
Society as a short form for institutions, gender relations, political economy and scientific relevance

Most Welcome to FarmLandS!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bokoni terracing -- in press

Terraces at Rietvlei, south of Machadodorp
The precolonial agricultural terracing in the Bokoni area in Mpumalanga is impressive and a clear example of investments in landesque capital. It is easy to envisage all this terracing as needing a concerted labour effort so that terracing has to be concluded before farming can start. In 2009 Alex Schoeman and I did get money for Swedish-Research Links to start a cooperative project on Bokoni and during the first brainstorming field trip in 2010 a group Swedish geographers were shown around by Alex in the area between Orighstad and Carolina and started to get an impression. We discussed the possiblity of better understanding the process of terrace building and were lucky to be able to continue an already started excavation of a flight of terraces at Verlorenkloof to find out more. The team now finally reports on this in a recently accepted paper Precolonial agricultural terracing in Bokoni, for Journal of African Archaeology.

The upper part of the terrace wall was initially constructed only as line of slabs set down in the soil to prevent erosions. Tim Maggs documenting the construction.

Lasse Westerberg and Jan Risberg documenting the character of the accumulation of soil in the terraces.

Cross-shaped phytoliths were found in the terrace accumulation. Maize produces cross-shaped phytoliths, but they could also emanate from wild grasses, so until statistical tests have been done they can only be seen as a possible indication of maize cultivation.

Tim Magg's drawing of the incremental development of terracing at Verlorenkloof

In short we argue on the basis of this evidence that the building of terraces in Bokoni must have been incremental. As more land was taken into cultivation, stone clearing increased. The stones were used in constructing erosion controlling stone lines that eventually developed into fully fledged terrace walls.

Read more::

No comments:

Post a Comment