New Farming Practices Revealed in ‘Lost City’ in Tanzania

Experts working on the 700-year-old abandoned site of Engaruka made the discovery.

August 24, 2017 5:00 am

Experts working on a 700-year-old abandoned site in Tanzania recently discovered farming practices that could be useful in modern agriculture.

Researchers from the U.K.’s University of York found sophisticated irrigation systems and terraces at the Engaruka site, reports Fox NewsThese systems were built to capture eroded sediments, which were then used to feed the site’s arid landscape.

“The inhabitants of ancient Engaruka were clearly highly skilled landscape engineers and agricultural managers, and there are lessons to be learnt here that can be applied to modern farming,” Daryl Stump, the project’s principal investigator, said in the statement.

The study challenges the assumption that soil erosion is always a bad thing. Researchers used archaeological excavation, geochemical analysis and soil micromorphology, which measures the components in soil, to conclude that harvesting sediment from soil erosion can benefit agriculture.

Engaruka is recognized as the remains of the largest abandoned system of irrigated agricultural fields and terraces in sub-Saharan Africa. It was once thought to be a ‘lost city’ of up to 40,000 inhabitants

It was mysteriously abandoned about 200 years ago. The site itself is about 7.7 square miles. Some experts think it was left because of climate change or deforestation, either of which would have reduced water supply to the fields.

This most recent discovery was part of the Archaeology of Agricultural Resilience in Eastern Africa project.

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