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No. 19: Jan-Feb 1982

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The Hohokam Indians lived along the Salt River Valley, in Arizona, about 300 BC to 1450 AD. They constructed a network of irrigation canals that is certainly one of the wonders of the Ancient New World. Early investigators recorded more than 500 kilometers of major canals and 1,600 kilometers of smaller ones. (Less than 10 kilometers of these remain intact today.) One of the main canals was 3 meters deep, 11 meters wide at ground level, and 14 kilometers long. Old and recent aerial photos show traces of an incredibly complex irrigation network. W.B. Masse, the author of this article, is very impressed by the earth-moving task but even more so by the degree of social coordination and control that must have been exerted all along the Salt River Valley in building and regulating the use of this remarkable canal system.

(Masse, W. Bruce; "Prehistoric Irrigation Systems in the Salt River Valley, Arizona," Science, 214:408, 1981.)

Reference. Many other ancient canal projects are described in our Handbook: Ancient Man. Ordering information here.

Composite map of canals near Tempe Composite map of canals near Tempe constructed from aerial photographs.

From Science Frontiers #19, JAN-FEB 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987