Water, geography, and Aksumite civilization: The Southern Red Sea Archaeological Histories (SRSAH) project survey (2009–2016)

Harrower, Michael, Nathan, Smiti, Mazzariello, Joseph, Zerue, Kifle, Dumitru, Ioana, Meresa, Yemane, Bongers, Jacob, Gebreegziabher, Gidey, Zaitchik, Benjamin and Anderson, Martha (2020) Water, geography, and Aksumite civilization: The Southern Red Sea Archaeological Histories (SRSAH) project survey (2009–2016). African Archaeological Review, 37 (1). pp. 51-67. ISSN 0263-0338

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For at least four decades, archaeologists have identified irrigation as playing a potentially major role in the rise of Aksumite civilization. Based on a systematic survey covering the area between Aksum and Yeha (Ethiopia), Joseph Michels proposed that large-scale irrigation systems introduced from Southwest Arabia contributed to the rise of Yeha as a major center of Pre-Aksumite civilization. To evaluate spatial patterning of archaeological sites with respect to water availability, this paper reports on results from archaeological survey of a 100 km2 region surrounding Yeha conducted by the Southern Red Sea Archaeological Histories (SRSAH) Project from 2009 to 2016. The SRSAH Project recorded 84 sites dating from the Pre-Aksumite to the Post-Aksumite periods (c.800 BCE to 900 CE). No ancient irrigation systems were identified and results do not show a correlation between archaeological sites and water resources. This suggests that irrigation was less important than Michels contended and that rainfed agriculture, terraces, and small-scale irrigation comparable with practices evident in the region today were sufficient to sustain ancient populations.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: aksum,eritrea,ethiopia,irrigation,spatial archaeology,water management,archaeology,archaeology ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1200/1204
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Centres > Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2020 09:15
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2023 12:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/74419
DOI: 10.1007/s10437-020-09369-8

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