Articles

Aboriginal Drained-Field Cultivation in the Americas

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Science  14 Aug 1970:
Vol. 169, Issue 3946, pp. 647-654
DOI: 10.1126/science.169.3946.647

Abstract

The three main types of land reclamation in aboriginal America were irrigation, terracing, and drainage. Of these, drainage techniques have received the least attention, probably because they are no longer important and because the remnants are not conspicuous. Nevertheless, drained-field cultivation was widespread and was practiced in varied environments, including high-land basins, tropical savannas, and temperate flood plains. Sites ranged from seasonally waterlogged or flooded areas to permanent lakes. Ridging, mounding, and ditching were emphasized, rather than diking. Tools were simple, crops varied, and fertilization was accomplished mainly by mulching.