Before AD 1500, Native American cultures took advantage of southern Arizona’s long growing season and tackled its challenge of limited precipitation by developing the earliest and most extensive irrigation works in all of North America. Agriculture was introduced to Arizona more than 4,000 years before present, and irrigation systems were developed in our state at least 3,500 years ago – several hundred years before irrigation was established in ancient Mexico. This presentation by archaeologist Allen Dart provides an overview of ancient irrigation systems in the southern Southwest and discusses irrigation’s implications for understanding social complexity.
Allen Dart is a Registered Professional Archaeologist who has worked in Arizona and New Mexico since 1975 and has been an Arizona Humanities speaker since 1997. He is the former executive director of Tucson’s nonprofit Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, which he founded in 1993 to provide educational and scientific programs in archaeology, history, and cultures. Al has received the Arizona Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission Award in Public Archaeology, the Arizona Archaeological Society’s Professional Archaeologist of the Year Award, and the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society’s Victor R. Stoner Award for his efforts to bring archaeology and history to the public.