Author Topic: The Hohokam: Canal Masters of the American Southwest  (Read 461 times)

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The Hohokam: Canal Masters of the American Southwest
« on: January 29, 2019, 11:30:36 AM »
 Winter 2019 , Reports
The Hohokam: Canal Masters of the American Southwest
By Paul Joseph De Mola Wed, Jan 9, 2019 SHARE ON: TwitterFacebook

Before the arrival of the Spanish, a Native American culture of the American Southwest built a flourishing civilization with a sophisticated irrigation system that rivaled the ancient Roman aqueducts.

During the High Middle Ages, whilst Western Europe was still coping with the sociopolitical disorder and economic decline which had engulfed the continent since the fall of Rome, the Hohokam of the North American Southwest were reaching their pinnacle of economic prosperity and social organization (Brown 1988: 1-61; Smith 2004: 14). Interestingly, the Hohokam or ‘those who have gone before’ are not as well known as some of their contemporaries, such as the Pueblo III era Anasazi, the Aztecs and the late-Classic/Postclassic Maya (Justice 2002: 275; Milner 2009: 680; Webster and Evans 2009: 596). Nonetheless, the Hohokam were a productive and expansive culture, whose innovations influenced subsequent Native American and post-Columbian generations (Browman et al. 2009: 320; See also Smith 2004: 23-93).

Center to Hohokam culture was their technologically sophisticated canal engineering which was utilized to irrigate numerous sub-communities (Abbott 2000: 48). At its peak (c. AD 1150-1450), the Hohokam hydraulic system was the largest of the day and provided water (and consequently food) to tens of thousands of rural inhabitants, rivaling the excellence of the ancient Roman aqueducts — an urban engineering marvel (Medchill 2012, pers.comm.; Logan 2002: 31; cf Aicher 1995: 6). Moreover, through a vast array of human-made waterways, otherwise disunified subcultural ‘villages’ were integrated into a highly complex agricultural based society (Abbott 2000: 143; Abbott et al. 2003: 15). Thus, one may argue, that the increasing needs of an agrarian society was an incentive for the centralized management of inter-communal water facilitation, which in turn resulted in a closely knit farming society that was regionally unsurpassed in crop production (cf Milner 2009: 692, 694).
“A society does not ever die ‘from natural causes’, but always dies from suicide or murder – and nearly always from the former….”
    ― Arnold Joseph Toynbee’s A Study of History.

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