Archaeological and Environmental Investigation of Yemeni Terraced Agriculture
Principal Investigators: M. Gibson and T.J. Wilkinson (deceased), University of Chicago.
In Yemen during the first centuries BC and AD the rise of the Himyarite Kingdom is thought to have been accompanied by a significant shift in population from the desert fringe to the north and east to the mountainous heartland of present day Yemen. This ongoing project seeks to investigate the emergence of the Himyarite kingdom by recording the key factors that would have enabled the kingdom to develop terraced agriculture. Selected areas of terraces are being mapped using air photographs. Sedimentary sequences and soil profiles are also being described so that the terraces can be related to the development of the archaeological settlement pattern. Emphasis is placed upon dating the terraces, describing how they were formed and functioned and relating them to the demographic history of the selected areas as established by detailed archaeological site survey. Their role as part of a dynamic human and natural landscape is being examined by the use of geomorphological techniques to determine how their growth and decay related changes in the local and regional environment.