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In 1850 Congress decreed that ''the meridian of the observatory at Washington shall be adopted and used as the American meridian for all astronomic purposes . . " This confusing situation was not entirely cleared up until 1912, when the act was repealed. Until then, most American maps showed longitude west of both Washington and Greenwich. When the Arizona state boundaries were surveyed, its north-south lines were based on the zero meridian of Washington, with the boundary between Arizona and New Mexico prescribed as 32° west of Washington.
It has been postulated that the large animals were exterminated by human hunters rather than by drought, as had been thought earlier. Possibly at the same time, or slightly later, there developed the Desert Culture in the region lying to the west of the area of the Hunter Culture. The people of the Desert Culture gathered plants and seeds for their food more than they hunted. Most of the artifacts found were for the grinding of seeds, though a few were of a type associated with the chase. , the Cochise Culture was the best representative of the Desert Culture.
D. 1400 the prehistoric Pueblo Culture was beginning to break up, possibly under pressure from more warlike and nomadic Athapascan people. The people tended to concentrate in larger pueblos where there was enough water to raise crops. D. 900 and 1000 another regional culture, called Sinagua, evolved near Flagstaff. It was a blend of Mogollon, Hohokam, and Pueblo cultures. D. 1066 a small volcano, Sunset Crater, erupted, spreading a layer of volcanic ash over the countryside. This ash conserved the moisture in the soil and made agriculture very simple.