Ancient irrigation canals found in Peru

In Peru's Andean foothills a group of archaeologists say they have found remnants of the oldest known irrigation canals in South America.

tech reviews Updated: Mar 13, 2006 13:12 IST

In Peru's Andean foothills a group of archaeologists say they have found remnants of the oldest known irrigation canals in South America, which they hope will provide clues to the origin of the region's agriculturally based societies.

"There are four sites in the area that have canals that date minimally 5,300 years ago, maybe a little earlier," team leader Tom D Dillehay, an archaeologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Dillehay started his research nearly 30 years ago in the Zana Valley, 60 kilometres inland from the Pacific Ocean and about 620 kilometres northwest of Lima.

The conclusions, reported in a recent issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- a peer reviewed publication of the Washington-based National Academy of Sciences -- offer evidence, long suspected by archaeologists, that irrigation technology was critical to the development of Peru's early civilization, Dillehay said.

"The Zana Valley canals are the earliest known in South America," wrote the authors of the journal article, Dillehay, Herbert H Eling Jr of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico and Jack Rossen of Ithaca College.

Dr Daniel Morales, director of the school of archaeology at Peru's San Marcos University, said he had not seen the article, but was familiar with Dillehay's work. He said the "discovery of the Zana canals is very important because it could be linked to the first form of irrigated agriculture" in Peru.

First Published: Jan 04, 2006 13:27 IST