The Geoarcheology of Ancient Water Control in the Southwest: Lessons from the Past

The Geoarcheology of Ancient Water Control in the Southwest: Lessons from the Past

Jun 5 2018 -
6:00pm to 9:00pm

The control and management of water in the North American Southwest dates back at least 3500 years and played a key role in long-term adaptations of ancient societies. Water was captured, diverted, and stored for purposes of domestic consumption and agricultural production. Strategies varied depending on local environmental factors and cultural needs. Hundreds of miles of canals were constructed along perennial rivers like the Salt, Gila, and Verde. Earthen reservoirs were constructed to capture runoff in the desert interior. Evidence for this ancient hydraulic infrastructure can be quite subtle depending on the scale of engineering and geological processes that modify the archaeological record. An understanding of geological surficial processes is essential for studying these ancient waterworks given that the physical remains are often defined by stratigraphy and best understood when placed within a geomorphic context. I will discuss some of my geoarchaeological research on ancient water control, focusing on the southern deserts of Arizona where water management was a hallmark trait of ancient societies like the Hohokam (A.D. 450-1450). This research makes clear that people have long dealt with the challenges of population growth and climate variability in arid environments, and that human resilience to stress varied through time. Such insights are relevant to the challenges we face today in the Southwest.

Cost: 
$33
Location: 

Sheraton: 5151 E Grant Rd. (& Rosemont), Tucson AZ 85712