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The floodplain of the Santa Cruz River was extensively farmed during the Early Agricultural period, circa 1200 BC to AD 150.These people constructed irrigation canals and grew corn, beans, and other crops while gathering wild plants and hunting animals.

Roughly 150 Tucson companies are involved in the design and manufacture of optics and optoelectronics systems, earning Tucson the nickname Optics Valley.

The Early Ceramic period occupation of Tucson saw the first extensive use of pottery vessels for cooking and storage.

The groups designated by archaeologists as the Hohokam lived in the area from AD 600 to 1450 and are known for their vast irrigation canal systems as well as their red-on-brown pottery.

Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino visited the Santa Cruz River valley in 1692, and founded the Mission San Xavier del Bac in 1700 about 7 miles (12 km) upstream from the site of the settlement of Tucson.

A separate Convento settlement was founded downstream along the then flowing Santa Cruz River, near the base of what is now "A" mountain.

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