Lecture 3. Hydraulic Architecture of Peru, Bolivia, and Mesoamerica, 3000–1000 CE

The shift from a subsistence economy based on hunting and gathering to one based on food production by cultivating plants and domesticating animals and water is a watershed in human history. The shift to an agriculture-based economy, and the complex systems of water management that it warranted, transpired only in a few independent centers around the world. One such center was Peru, where advanced settlements and agro-pastoral activities flourished as early as 5000 BCE. Small-scale gravity canals in the western Andean foothills in northern Peru made farming possible on low terraced hills. From the city of Caral-Supe in Peru to Teotihuacan and the Mayan city of Tikal, both in Mesoamerica, hydraulic engineering became central to civilizational growth in the Americas.

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