Hohokam Society and Water Management

Suzanne K. Fish and Paul R. Fish

in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195380118
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Hohokam Society and Water Management

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In the southwestern United States, the Hohokam of southern Arizona are notable for the scale and diversity of their water management, and for the deep sedentism and dense populations their agricultural productivity made possible. The Hohokam domain was centered near modern Phoenix, in the hot, dry Sonoran Desert biome. Although the populous inhabitants of an extensively irrigated core area along the Salt and Gila rivers in the Phoenix Basin elaborated many hallmarks of Hohokam culture, local populations largely replicated these organizational and stylistic modes in outlying basins, where they combined more limited irrigation with other farming techniques. Given that Hohokam sociopolitical organization never met the criteria for a state according to most scholars, Hohokam society embodies the unusual social correlates of large-scale, coordinated water management outside the confines of a comprehensive legal system, coercive governmental force, or bureaucracy.

Keywords: Hohokam; water management; agricultural productivity; Phoenix Basin; Hohokam society; legal system

Article.  3969 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of North America

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