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Water Management in Ancient Persia (Part 2)

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Ice Houses

People loved to have something icy in the hot summer time. People started devising such systems for water management in ancient Persia’s hot climate to have icy refreshment in summer.

Desert nights were quite cold and water could freeze. This is what people needed to make ice out of water in ditches or pools next to a wall adjacent to a large mud-and-brick dome covering a huge water tank underneath.

Every night, ice was made and the next day it was shaded by the wall and preserved in a cool place.

The ice made in such a manner was kept in such structures until the end of summer due to the efficient insulation system devised for ice-houses.

Multi-Functional Bridges

The oldest remnants of bridges trace back to the Sassanian period, 3rd to 7th centuries. They were so strongly built that they remain extant today, despite all the flooding and windy events lashing at them for centuries.

Most of these bridges have been constructed on very powerful rivers in southwest Iran.

The main material contributing to the solidity of these structures was Sarouj--the same traditional cement.

There were arches built on top of the Sarouj-made foundations with flat roofs on top of these structures. These flat surfaces were connecting ancient roads on one side of the river to the other.

The empty spaces between arches and under flat tops created enclosed areas as shelters or shady spots, which could function to let more raised water to go through and help the entire structure resist against the current.

Stone, rubble, pebble and bricks were combined using Sarouj. Once hardened, this locally crafted mixture turned into a hard cliff-like wall, which allowed the safe passage of water streams.

Thanks to this technique, which ancient Persians invented to construct bridges, we can now study this aspect of water management.

Water Dams on Large Rivers

What’s left from those ancient water dams indicate the rigidity of the structures installed on big rivers of Iran to block the water and redirect them into farms and orchards.

The same local construction materials referred to earlier were made use of for building such structures.

Basically, the purpose of building some bridges in Iran was to make it possible for the caravans and people cross those rivers while it raised the level of water for purposes like irrigation.

In some cases, even before the Sassanian rule, Persians had redirected part of the water in large rivers to transfer it to agricultural fields by making water channels.

In Shoushtar, where you can see several examples of water management, Nahr-e-Dariun demonstrates the planning skills of ancient Persians.

Are these methods useless today? Are these structures obsolete? Are we so advanced in 21st century to say goodbye to them? You can visit these sites in Iran to see the realities on the ground and learn the fascinating passion of Iranians for water management in this semi-arid country.

Source: english.irib.ir


Other links:

A short history of high buildings in Iran

History of Minarets

Architectural Structure of Minarets

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