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November 09 , 2007

The Terrace Builders of Nyanga


The stone ruins of the Nyanga area of eastern Zimbabwe have aroused much interest since they were first reported to the outside world at the end of the 19th century. Early fanciful speculations about their meaning have slowly given way to better understanding based on archaeological research, most recently by the University of Zimbabwe in co-operation with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe and the British Institute in Eastern Africa. The ruins represent the remains of family homesteads and extensive stone-built agricultural terraces. Successive stages of development have been traced, starting with settlements on some of the highest peaks around AD 1300 and expanding gradually for five centuries to cover an area of over 5000 square kilometres. These stages show how the farming community adapted to and exploited the opportunities offered by the varied environments of the Nyanga highlands and lowlands to develop a specialised agricultural system integrating cultivation and livestock. In this book, Robert Soper sets out the accumulated knowledge and understanding of the old Nyanga society, in particular the significance of its agricultural works to which the landscape bears eloquent witness.
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