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What Technology and Knowledge from the Ancient World Could Solve Today’s Problems?

The current food shortage across the globe, and the risk of it getting more serious over time, is an example of a modern problem that many civilizations have also faced in the past. Could we learn from some of the best ancient solutions on how to deal with this?


Aztec Farming on Floating Islands

Interest in the Aztec empire is currently high, with movies including The Black Demon, which is set in Mexico and is partly based on Aztec legends about sea creatures. This culture is also present in the wide variety of slots online, with titles such as Azteca Bonus Lines and El Dorado: The City of Gold. These games show us some of the key features of the culture, such as pyramids and temples, with local wild animals such as snakes and jaguars also represented.

In terms of food production, the Aztecs used their knowledge of science and agriculture in two innovative ways. The first way used terracing included advanced irrigation techniques to allow them to grow a wide selection of crops. A lack of suitable agricultural land made this a crucial way of farming, but the swampy lands and several lakes in and around their capital, Tenochtitlan, meant that more drastic solutions were needed.

This is why they incorporated chinampas, which were like floating farms. Anchored to the bottom of the lake using fast-growing willow trees, these reed and earth platforms proved to be incredibly effective and required no additional irrigation. Given that farmland is becoming scarcer across the planet due to a combination of urbanization, erosion, desertification, and other factors, this could prove to be an interesting solution. There are signs that chinampas are coming back into favor in Mexico City, on the site of the former Tenochtitlan.

The Roman Approach to Sustainability

On the other side of the planet, another civilization also valued agriculture as highly as the Aztecs, and they proved to be just as ingenious at finding the right solutions. The Roman Empire covered a massive region of two million square miles of territory across very different terrains and climatic zones, with a constant demand for fresh produce.

Sustainability was one of the keys to ensuring suitable production levels across the empire. The Romans practiced advanced techniques such as crop rotation, the planting of cover crops to protect the soil, and contour plowing of their sloped fields.  Their most impressive use of technology involved creating impressive aqueducts for irrigation and mills for grinding wheat.

Perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from the Romans is the value in which they held farming, was they viewed it as a noble and vital industry that also provided a kind of idealized lifestyle for farmers. This view was part of the reason that sustainability was such a major issue for them, as the need to continually produce high-quality food was greater than the desire to over-exploit the land for quick profits.

These ideas from ancient cultures could be incorporated into the modern farming industry effectively. In fact, with the Roman idea of sustainability similar to the modern eco-friendly movement and the Aztec chinampas making a comeback, this could happen sooner than we think.