Archaeologist Allen Dart discusses ancient canal systems in the Southwest and irrigation’s implications for understanding social complexity. Before 1500 CE, Native American cultures took advantage of the long growing season in the southern Arizona desert, tackling the challenge of limited precipitation by developing the earliest and most extensive irrigation works in North America. Agriculture was introduced more than 4,000 years ago and irrigation systems were developed at least 3,500 years ago – well before the earliest-known irrigation works were established in Mexico.
Archaeologist Allen Dart has worked in New Mexico and Arizona since 1975. A UNM graduate (1973), he worked for the Museum of New Mexico (Santa Fe) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Albuquerque) before receiving his Master’s degree in Arizona. Al is the executive director of Tucson’s Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, a nonprofit he founded in 1993. He has received awards and honors from the National Park Service and other organizations for his efforts to bring archaeology and history to the public.