Anthropologists, with the assistance of satellite imagery, have discovered the remains of a series of ancient canals, located just south of the Salt River, near the very heart of downtown Mesa, Arizona.
The existence of the canal system, built in the Salt River valley centuries ago by the Hohokam, has long been known, but the extent of this most recent discovery has caught some experts by surprise.
Jerry B. Howard, curator of anthropology at the Arizona Museum of Natural History is one of the experts involved in archaeological studies of the region being conducted before the city of Mesa can permit the area to be redeveloped. Planners had intended to build a massive water park on the property, but all bets are off as to whether that plan can still move forward.
"Through satellite imagery, sometimes we can actually see the canals, kind of a signature of them," states Howard. "The soil in them is different than the other soil around them, more porous and moist.”
The area, larger in scope than previously anticipated, is currently home to a golf course and a hospital, the two of which are separated by not surprisingly, the Mesa Grande Pueblo ruins.
These ruins, located near the heart downtown Mesa, were once occupied by the Hohokam Indians, responsible for constructing massive canal systems, still providing water to the Valley of the Sun, hundreds of years after the Hohokam mysteriously vanished.
The Hohokam inhabited the northern Sonora desert region known as the ‘Phoenix Basin’ for centuries before the arrival of the European explorers. They constructed extensive canals and irrigation networks, rivaling those of Ancient Egypt and China. These industrious peoples cultivated a variety of crops, including tobacco, cotton, beans, squash, maize and agave.