Unearthing the Social History of Terrace Agriculture near Puno, Peru

Session: 
Farming
Date and Time: 
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 - 8:10pm to 8:30pm
Author(s): 
LANGLIE, BrieAnna - Washington University in Saint Louis

Environmental sustainability is inherent in the architectural design of agricultural terraces, a landscape modification strategy independently developed by cultures around the world.  In the southern Peruvian Andes of South America, farmers’ consistent use of terraces through time also points to the adaptability of terrace agricultural to a variety of social situations.  Specifically, recent archaeological excavations of terrace fields adjacent to Ayawiri, a large hilltop habitation site near Puno, indicate the logistical value in this agricultural strategy.   To Ayawiri farmers, terraces were defensible during periods of war, productive during drought, and were a successful means of producing surplus crops.  These data indicate that over millennia terrace agriculture was foundational to the lifeways and economy of inhabitants of the region.  Although threatened by mechanical tractor farming encroaching nearby communities, many ancient terrace field complexes near Puno are maintained, continuously modified, and intensively cultivated by indigenous populations that still inhabit the region.