Kashyapa A. S. Yapa

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list, of canal-related engineering works, in the American continent; simply, an attempt to show the different techniques, employed by ancient communities, to fulfill their needs, using the resources available.  I really appreciate if you would collaborate, by informing us about additional structures.  (I will include modern canals in the list, in the future, as needed, for comparison.)



System Maps - Phoenix/ Lambayeque/ Chicama/

Earthen canals -  Pueblogrande/ Taymi/ Apurlec/ Ascope / Pacherrez /Huari

Rock-cut canal - Cumbemayo

Lined canals - Intervalley/ Raqchi/ Yucay/ Tipon


Fossilized canals Tehuacan/ Moctezuma

Aqueducts - Ascope/ Intervalley/ Piquillakta / Tipon

Tunnels - Ibarra/ Mira

Related structures:

Spills Ascope/ Intervalley

Erosion protection - Intervalley

Secondary canal Intervalley

Field canals Chan Chan

Large canal systems:
The Hohokam culture, built an immense system of irrigation canals, covering the entire valley of Phoenix, AZ, USA, and surrounding areas.  Thin blue lines indicate major canals, and dark brown spots, important settlements.
This map, from Deza (1999), identifies major canals that lead from Lambayeque (or Chancay) river, in the north coast of Peru. Thick dark lines indicate canals, and shaded areas, some of the irrigated areas. Some canals still function, in slightly modified forms.  (The scale, shown at bottom left, is 10km.) 

The trajectory of the Chicama-Moche intervalley canal (canal de la cumbre) is shown here (Deza, 1999).  Built by Chimu empire, it ran from Sausal to Chan Chan, some 70 plus kilometers, crossing the valley divide, to augment the unpredictable supply of Moche river.  Whether it actually brought water to Moche valley, has not been confirmed yet.  The map, also shows some other canals that lead from Rio Chicama, towards Ascope and towards Chiquitoy.  Shaded, are some of the irrigated areas.
Major Earthen Canals
One of the major Hohokam canals, near Pueblo Grande Museum, Phoenix, AZ, USA.  It is very wide and deep at this point, closer to the intake.
Taymi canal, near Patapo, Lambayeque, Peru, one of the major canals in the  Lambayeque valley.  A new concrete lined canal, replaced this, a few decades ago.

A smaller, but longer, canal, leaving from the left bank of Lambayeque river, at Pacherrez, near Pampa Grande, which was the last capital of Moche culture.  Now it carries the runoff coming down the hill, protecting the village below.

A large transbasin canal at Apurlec, fed by La Leche river, north of Lambayeque, Peru.  It probably had a weir to control the flow. The whole system has long been abandoned.
This canal, turns north from Chicama river, and runs on top of the Ascope dam-aqueduct, in La Libertad, Peru.  It had been in use, till the beginning of the last century, when the sugarcane moguls destroyed the structure.  Modern canals, run at the foot of the dam, and thus, are unable to feed lands in the upper valley.  To the far right is the lake 'Alto Pichona,' formed by the dam.

A small canal, bringing spring water from higher elevations, to the ancient Huari capital, near Ayacucho, Peru. In this stretch, it runs over an earth and rock aqueduct.
Rock-cut Canals

Above: On the Pacific side of the Divide, large rock outcrops surround the valley, the birthplace of Cumbemayo canal, above Cajamarca, Peru.
Right: The canal is cut through solid rock, for the first kilometer or so.

Examples of excellent rock excavation skills of Cumbemayo builders.

They mastered the curves as well.

Right: Cumbemayo canal, and a modern concrete canal (which began at a lower altitude), race towards the Continental Divide
Bottom: Cumbemayo crosses the Divide (marked by the gravel road), through a 2m deep cut and, drops down to Cajamarca.  (Currently the canal is abandoned.)

Lined Canals:
Moche-Chicama intervalley canal, in La Libertad, Peru, has an excellent rock masonry lining.
The masonry lining extends for kilometers.
The valley-side bund of the canal, built up with rock walls.  In the background of the photo, the steep valley-side slope is masterfully terraced to prevent erosion.
A snow-melt stream that reaches Urubamba valley at Yucay, near Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Peru, was subjected to a master-planned water management system.  Just above the Yucay valley neck, the Incas, converted the fast-running stream to a fully stone-lined canal, and divided it into several branches, to feed the massive, stone-terraced agricultural fields, that cover the entire valley.  This canal collects overflow from the terraces on the right, while feeding those on the left on its run down to the river.  Canal bottoms too, are lined with well-fitted, large, field stones.

This small, well-lined canal, at Raqchi, near Sicuani, Cusco, Peru, brought water for domestic or ceremonial purposes.
This cut-stone-lined canal, at Tipon, upper Urubamba valley, Cusco, Peru, brought water for ceremonial purposes, at the Intihuatana, that watches over the extensive terraced fields below.  A separate irrigation system fed the fields.. 


If you would like to begin a discussion, please,  write to me.

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