Canal Irrigation in Prehistoric Mexico: The Sequence of Technological Change by William E. DoolittleCanal Irrigation in Prehistoric Mexico: The Sequence of Technological Change by William E. Doolittle

Canal Irrigation in Prehistoric Mexico: The Sequence of Technological Change

byWilliam E. Doolittle

Paperback | March 23, 2011

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 173 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Prehistoric farmers in Mexico invented irrigation, developed it into a science, and used it widely. Indeed, many of the canal systems still in use in Mexico today were originally begun well before the discovery of the New World. In this comprehensive study, William E. Doolittle synthesizes and extensively analyzes all that is currently known about the development and use of irrigation technology in prehistoric Mexico from about 1200 B.C. until the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century A.D.

Unlike authors of previous studies who have focused on the political, economic, and social implications of irrigation, Doolittle considers it in a developmental context. He examines virtually all the known systems, from small canals that diverted runoff from ephemeral mountain streams to elaborate networks that involved numerous large canals to irrigate broad valley floors with water from perennial rivers. Throughout the discussion, he gives special emphasis to the technological elaborations that distinguish each system from its predecessors. He also traces the spread of canal technology into and through different ecological settings.

This research substantially clarifies the relationship between irrigation technology in Mexico and the American Southwest and argues persuasively that much of the technology that has been attributed to the Spaniards was actually developed in Mexico by indigenous people. These findings will be important not only for archaeologists working in this area but also for geographers, historians, and engineers interested in agriculture, technology, and arid lands.

William E. Doolittle is Erich W. Zimmermann Regents Professor in Geography at the University of Texas at Austin.
Title:Canal Irrigation in Prehistoric Mexico: The Sequence of Technological ChangeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:219 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:March 23, 2011Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292729537

ISBN - 13:9780292729537

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. Prehistoric Irrigation, Technology, and Mexico
  • 2. An Era of Experimentation, 1200–350 B.C.
  • 3. A Time of Maturation, 350 B.C.-A.D. 800
  • 4. A Period of Expansion and Intensification, A.D. 800–1200
  • 5. The Golden Age, A.D. 1200–1520
  • 6. Origins and Cultural Implications
  • 7. Accomplishments and Contributions
  • Bibliography
  • Index