Thursday, November 08, 2012

Pet Kot (and Etc.)

(A Little Wikipedia Journey on a Snowy Morning)
Pet Kot
Much of the Maya food supply was grown in forest gardens, known as pet kot.[1] 
The system takes its name from the low wall of stones - (pet meaning "circular" and kot "wall of loose stones") that characteristically surrounds the gardens.[2]
^1  Michael Ernest Smith and Marilyn A. Masson (2000). The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica. p. 127.

Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to replicate a woodland habitat.
Forest gardens are probably the world's oldest form of land use and most resilient agroecosystem. They originated in prehistoric times along jungle-clad river banks and in the wet foothills of monsoon regions. In the gradual process of families improving their immediate environment, useful tree and vine species were identified, protected and improved whilst undesirable species were eliminated. Eventually superior foreign species were selected and incorporated into the gardens.[2]

The BBC's Unnatural Histories claimed that the Amazon rainforest, rather than being a pristine wilderness, has been shaped by man for at least 11,000 years through practices such as forest gardening and terra preta.[7] Since the 1970s, numerous geoglyphs have also been discovered on deforested land in the Amazon rainforest, furthering the evidence about Pre-Columbian civilizations.[8][9]
On the Yucatán Peninsula, much of the Maya food supply was grown in "orchard-gardens", known as pet kot. ]The system takes its name from the low wall of stones (pet meaning circular and kot wall of loose stones) that characteristically surrounds the gardens.[11]
Unnatural Histories is a 3-part British television documentary series produced by the BBC and BBC Natural History Unit. It takes a new look at three of the world's most iconic wildernesses; the Serengeti, Yellowstone National Park and the Amazon and discovers that far from being wild and untouched, each has been shaped over time by man.[1][2] It was first broadcast on BBC Four 9–23 June 2011.[3]
{Photo: Geoglyphs on deforested land in the Amazon rainforest is from {}.)
Episode 3: Amazon
First aired on Thursday 23 June 2011. The final episode looks at the Amazon rainforest - billed as the world's last great wilderness. However, the discovery of geoglyphs uncovered following deforestation in the 1970s and terra preta, provide growing evidence for ancient cities in the heart of the 'virgin forest'.[6]Alceu Ranzi, a Brazilian geographer, is accredited with first discovering the geoglyphs whilst flying over Acre.[7][8]
{ Terra preta (literally "black earth" in Portuguese) is a type of very dark, fertile anthropogenic soil found in the Amazon Basin. Terra preta owes its name to its very high charcoal content, and was made by adding a mixture of charcoal, bone, and manure to the otherwise relatively infertile Amazonian soil. It is very stable and remains in the soil for thousands of years.[1][2] It is also known as "Amazonian dark earth" or "Indian black earth". In Portuguese its full name is terra preta do índio or terra preta de índio ("black earth of the Indian", "Indians' black earth"). Terra mulata ("mulatto earth") is lighter or brownish in color.}

The documentary presents evidence that Francisco de Orellana, rather than exaggerating his claims as previously thought, was correct in his observations that a complex civilization was flourishing along the Amazon in the 1540s. It is believed that the civilization was later devastated by the spread of diseases from Europe, such as smallpox. Some 5 million people may have lived in the Amazon region in 1500, divided between dense coastal settlements, such as that at Marajó, and inland dwellers.[9] By 1900 the population had fallen to 1 million and by the early 1980s it was less than 200,000.[9]
The documentary features interviews with Betty Meggers, William Balée, Anna Roosevelt, José Iriarte, Eduardo Góes Neves, Cristiana Barreto, Francis Mayle, Denise Schaan and Michael Heckenberger.

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