Gardens of Prehistory: The Archaeology of Settlement Agriculture in Greater Mesoamerica

By Thomas W. Killion | Go to book overview

In sum, the articles collected in Gardens of Prehistory: The Archaeology of Settlement Agriculture in Greater Mesoamerica provide a new look at a critical element of food production in prehispanic America. The archaeological record is treated as a diagnostic indicator of the material consequence of some of the most redundant sorts of activities engaged in by farmers at varying distances from the residence, particularly those areas in proximity to the residence so important to the energetic parameters of prehistoric New World agricultural production. The outcome is a set of studies that seeks to close the gap between data and theory, provide new insight on the nature of ancient agriculture in the New World, and present some provocative methods and approaches that should help improve its documentation.


NOTES
1.
By extensive I refer to systems of shifting agriculture generally practiced in areas of low population density where sufficient stands of climax and secondary forest resources are available for long fallow agriculture. This system usually, but certainly not always, implies a somewhat impermanent system of settlement as well.
2.
The term garden refers to a polycultural mix of cultigens and useful economic species grown on small plots where the cultivator focuses on individual plants and their microhabitats by small inputs of labor on a continuous basis.
3.
Agriculture is taken to imply a monocultural or near-monocultural mix of staple cultigens grown on large, flat, or landscaped parcels where the cultivator invests large amounts of labor in a staggered fashion during peak labor episodes of the cultivation cycle.

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