The Hohokam, or ancestral Sonoran Desert people, built and maintained a massive prehistoric canal system from roughly A.D. 450-1450. Why they discontinued using their monumental irrigation system is a topic of considerable debate. Recent archaeological investigations of Hohokam canals in Phoenix identified three major destructive floods that occurred between A.D. 1000-1400. This article provides the first stratigraphic evidence of a Salt River flood so destructive that similar canals ceased to be built within the area.
Oblique aerial photograph of the prehistoric Hohokam North and South Canals at the Park of Four Waters in Phoenix, 1930, Photographer Neil Judd, Roll 727, Frame 152, Courtesy National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Flood-Damaged Canals and Human Response, A.D. 1000–1400