Ethnoarchaeological research on traditional farmer knowledge in Eastern Tigrai, Ethiopia reveals adaptations that farmers employ in the face of environmental change, most notably from climate, soil erosion, increasing demographic pressures, and the practice of fire ecology. Within an historical ecology framework, information from farmer consultants is integrated with an analysis of the archaeological and palaeoenvironmental literature to elucidate potential human-environment interactions in the development of the first complex societies in the Horn of Africa during the Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite (1600 BCE- CE 700) periods. The drought and famine of 1984/5 had a significant impact on both the environmental and agricultural systems, and farmers stopped cultivating many crop varieties after this period. A cycle of accumulating cultivated varieties and practices, and then environmental and societal events shifting the systems potentially for decades, perhaps was experienced by farming communities during the development of the Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite civilizations.
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Thesis advisor: D'Andrea, Catherine
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