Prehistoric Irrigation Systems in the Salt River Valley, Arizona

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Science  23 Oct 1981:
Vol. 214, Issue 4519, pp. 408-415
DOI: 10.1126/science.214.4519.408


This article discusses prehistoric irrigation canals recently excavated near Phoenix, Arizona. The canals were constructed by the Hohokam Indians between A.D. 850 and 1450. Several aerial photographs taken at various times in the past five decades clearly show the paths of hundreds of the canals, including some of those recently excavated. These data provide new insights on Hohokam irrigation technology and society. Despite the destructive inroads of modern development, much significant archeological information can still be retrieved both by conventional excavation methods and by the archival study of aerial photographs.