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2017 - ASEH Annual Conference Words: 284 words || 
1. Ertsen, Maurits. "Risk-taking versus sure-thing-taking: changes in Hohokam irrigation over time" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2019-08-17 <>
Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: The Hohokam civilization occupied areas in the southwest of the (modern) USA roughly between 0 AD and the middle of the 15th century AD. They are renowned for their extensive irrigation canals and the apparent disappearance of their society after 1450. As such, they are a popular symbol for the risks that societies run when they rely on a single source of food production and when they overstress that system. In the Classic period (1150-1450), Hohokam settlement retreated into more discrete clusters, and thereafter is supposed to have collapsed. Hohokam were faced with immense fluctuations in annual water resource availability that would have interrupted the way institutions were established and maintained by Hohokam society. The settlement shift between Sedentary (A.D. 950-1150) to Classic times occurred during a period of extremely low annual precipitation. Hohokam society’s dispersal after 1375 AD started under extremely low runoff conditions even though annual precipitation had not been extremely low. Our latest evidence suggests that the same period saw many more winter floods, suggesting the period was characterized by general low flows with recurring severe floods. This would have put stress on cooperative efforts. There is also evidence that population migrated out of the cooperative structure during relatively wet periods only to come back later due to recurring dry conditions. This could have added further strain on the personal relationships and exacted another cost of personal nature on the coalition structure, weakening it over time. As such, the Hohokam might not be an example of a society that overstressed its resources, but as an example how difficult it is for a society to deal with risks at all, as meanings of risk change as much as the environment changes itself.

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