Linking soil properties and pre-Columbian agricultural strategies in the Bolivian lowlands: The case of raised fields in Exaltación

Rodrigues, Leonor; Lombardo, Umberto; Canal Beeby, Elisa; Veit, Heinz (2017). Linking soil properties and pre-Columbian agricultural strategies in the Bolivian lowlands: The case of raised fields in Exaltación. Quaternary International, 437, pp. 143-155. Pergamon Press 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.091

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This paper aims to further our understanding of pre-Columbian agricultural systems in the Llanos de Moxos, Bolivia. Three different types of raised fields co-existing in the same site near the community of Exaltación, in north-western Beni, were studied. The morphology, texture and geochemistry of the soils of these fields and the surrounding area were analysed. Differences in field design have often been associated with the diversity of cultural practices. Our results suggest that in the study area differences in field shape, height and layout are primarily the result of an adaptation to the local edaphology. By using the technology of raised fields, pre-Columbian people were able to drain and cultivate soils with very different characteristics, making the land suitable for agriculture and possibly different crops. This study also shows that some fields in the Llanos de Moxos were built to prolong the presence of water, allowing an additional cultivation period in the dry season and/or in times of drought. Nevertheless, the nature of the highly weathered soils suggests that raised fields were not able to support large populations and their management required long fallow periods.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Paleo-Geoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Gondim Rodrigues, Leonor; Lombardo, Umberto and Veit, Heinz

Subjects:

900 History > 910 Geography & travel

ISSN:

1040-6182

Publisher:

Pergamon Press

Language:

English

Submitter:

Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

08 Jun 2016 10:51

Last Modified:

20 May 2017 01:30

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.091

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.80913

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/80913

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