Tidal Technology

Rice was a major export from #Charleston throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and became a source of considerable wealth, as well as the basis for a slave labor system. Grown in massive amounts in low wetlands that were steamy hot and filled with mosquitoes, rice production was hard labor in tropical conditions that those of European descent were not used to, whereas rice had been cultivated in West Africa for centuries in even more sweltering conditions. There had also been a thriving slave trade in West Africa for centuries, so that’s where slaving ships went for gangs of slaves to work the rice fields. The means of cultivation was very simple in coastal Africa, involving flooding of fields with fresh water to irrigate and flooding with brackish water to kill off competing vegetation. The idea was recreated in South Carolina lowlands with the use of tools that controlled water flow, such as this reconstruction of a rice gate and trunk in the Charleston Museum. The tidal action in coastal rivers was manipulated in this way to push open and close the gates. allowing for  fresh water to irrigate and salty water to eliminate competitive vegetation in the fields. <img.src=”Charleston History” alt=”Rice trunks and gates

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