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Indigenous Development of Mesoamerican Irrigation

William E. Doolittle
Geographical Review
Vol. 85, No. 3 (Jul., 1995), pp. 301-323
DOI: 10.2307/215275
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/215275
Page Count: 23
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Indigenous Development of Mesoamerican Irrigation
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Abstract

This article examines dams, canals, control structures, and aqueducts associated with Mesoamerican irrigation systems. On the basis of their geographical patterning, indigenous development is the preferred explanation for the origin of canal-irrigation technology in prehistoric Mesoamerica. Changes in the features over time indicate that ancient irrigators were constantly struggling to ensure an adequate food supply. Some simple technologies eluded them, yet they did manage to create some complex ones. The evidence shows many gaps as well as periods of continued expansion. Indigenous development, though not easy to explicate, provides more insight into culture and technology than have previous explanations.

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