The stone ruins of the Nyanga area of eastern Zimbabwe have aroused
much interest since they were first reported to the outside world
at the end of the 19th century. Early fanciful speculations about
their meaning have slowly given way to better understanding based
on archaeological research, most recently by the University of
Zimbabwe in co-operation with the National Museums and Monuments of
Zimbabwe and the British Institute in Eastern Africa. The ruins
represent the remains of family homesteads and extensive
stone-built agricultural terraces. Successive stages of development
have been traced, starting with settlements on some of the highest
peaks around AD 1300 and expanding gradually for five centuries to
cover an area of over 5000 square kilometres. These stages show how
the farming community adapted to and exploited the opportunities
offered by the varied environments of the Nyanga highlands and
lowlands to develop a specialised agricultural system integrating
cultivation and livestock. In this book, Robert Soper sets out the
accumulated knowledge and understanding of the old Nyanga society,
in particular the significance of its agricultural works to which
the landscape bears eloquent witness.
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