Agricultural Terracing at Nakauvadra, Viti Levu: A Late Prehistoric Irrigated Agrosystem in Fiji
Department or Administrative Unit
Agricultural intensification on Pacific Islands often resulted in dramatic and durable modifications to the environment. Irrigated terrace agrosystems for the cultivation of wetland taro (Colocasia esculenta) reshaped hillsides and stream valleys in many areas of Fiji. The functional morphology and design of several now abandoned terrace systems were examined on the northern flanks of the Nakauvadra Mountains in northeast Viti Levu, an area that manifests the largest expanse of terracing in the archipelago. Garden types comprise regularly tiered surfaces with earthen bunds constructed as contours on open slopes, along with rock-faced plots alongside streams and below springs in wooded ravines. Radiocarbon dates from garden soil and an associated settlement site indicate probable use and occupation during the Late Prehistoric period of the early nineteenth century. Although probably not involved in the large-scale wars of political confederation, the taro growers of Nakauvadra implemented fail-safe subsistence strategies that were combined with the need for concealment and defensibility. Archaeological and oral-historical evidence suggests an intense but short-lived period of food production placed out of harm's way. European contact and subsequent colonization introduced numerous factors that rendered this agricultural infrastructure obsolete.
Kuhlken, R.T. & Crosby, A. (1999). Agricultural Terracing at Nakauvadra, Viti Levu: A Late Prehistoric Irrigated Agrosystem in Fiji. Asian Perspectives 38(1), 62-89.
© 1999 by University of Hawai'i Press