Southwest's earliest known irrigation system unearthed in Arizona





Archaeologists preparing for the expansion of a Tucson wastewater treatment facility have discovered the remains of the earliest known irrigation system in the Southwest, a farming community that dates to at least 1200 BC.

That predates the well-known and much more sophisticated Hohokam tribe's canal system, which crisscrossed what is now Phoenix, by 1,200 years. The find suggests that the people who inhabited the region began with relatively simple irrigation systems and built up to more complex projects as the climate became hotter and drier.

"These are not the earliest canals known in southern Arizona, but they are the most extensive and sophisticated engineering [from the period] that we have identified to date," said archaeologist James M. Vint of Desert Archaeology Inc. in Tucson.


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