The Archaeology of Field Systems in Al-Andalus

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The Berber and Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711 C.E. led to a profound transformation of the agricultural landscape. The layout of the irrigated areas, both rural and urban, is recognisable because it is the result of social and technological choices. But irrigated agriculture was not the only option in Al-Andalus. Rainfed agriculture is supposed to have been the main form of agriculture in large areas of the centre and west of the peninsula, although the field systems have been scarcely identified. In regions where irrigation was the preferred option, rainfed crops were complementary. In regions where dry farming was the only possible agriculture, there were settlement networks linked to livestock breeding and to droveways and pasture areas. The original selections made by the Berber and Arab farmers can still be recognized despite the expansion that has mainly taken place since modern times. However, the more recent and destructive capitalist agriculture is erasing the last vestiges of the Andalusi agricultural landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Article number196
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2024


  • Al-Andalus
  • dry farming
  • irrigation


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