chapter  8
37 Pages

A Regional Perspective on Hohokam Irrigation in the Lower Salt River Valley, Arizona

WithLinda M. Nicholas, Gary M. Feinman

One of the largest prehistoric irrigation systems in North America, covering approximately 650 square kilometers, is located in the Lower Salt River Valley of Arizona. These ancient canals generated considerable interest among early European explorers and settlers to the area, and over the last 100 years, Hohokam canals have been the focus of substantial research. The first archaeological studies of Hohokam irrigation were conducted in the late 1800’s. The origins of canal irrigation in southern Arizona have been debated. Several of the newly constructed systems surpassed the spatial extent of earlier systems. There was greater variability in the structure of the different canal systems, with some smaller systems remaining basically linear. The irrigation network of the Classic period was similar in complexity, but much more integrated, than in the prior Sedentary period. The indices of hierarchical structure and integration of the canal systems also indicate that there were corresponding changes in the structure and organization of Hohokam irrigation.