Aqueduct heritage in west-central Iran ‘very complex and interesting’, senior archaeologist says

July 13, 2020 - 19:30

TEHRAN – The ruins of some 100 qanats (subterranean aqueducts), which are stretched beneath the Buin Zahra plain, west-central Iran, along with their associated cultural heritage are “very complex and interesting”, a senior Iranian archaeologist has said.

Over 100 separate qanats have so far been identified across Buin Zahra plain [in Qazvin province] many of which being placed among prehistorical human settlements that date from the first millennium BC, Mostafa Dehpahlavan, the director of the archaeology institute of the University of Tehran told in an interview with IRNA released on Saturday.

“Five watermills and some kilns for producing specific clay work are amongst parts of qanat’s heritage in the region that exists in limited numbers across the country …. And this heritage should be preserved [for the coming generations],” the expert noted.

Elsewhere in his remarks Dehpahlavan pointed to the cylinder seals recently being discovered in a nearby prehistorical cemetery at Tepe Sagzabad. The relics are estimated to once belonging to Assyria, the kingdom of northern Mesopotamia that became the center of one of the great empires in West Asia.

“Based on research on the spheres of physical anthropology, genetic, ancient zoology, and rare burial traditions, we obtained ample evidence that suggests cultural, political, and economic interactions of the inhabitants with remote areas of the western edge of the Iranian plateau,” the archaeologist explained.

A select of eleven qanats is collectively been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list under the title of Persian Qanat. Each of them epitomizes many others in terms of geographic scopes, architectural designs, and other motives. Such subterranean tunnels provide exceptional testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in desert areas with an arid climate.

Generally, each qanat comprises an almost horizontal tunnel for collecting water from an underground water source, usually an alluvial fan, into which a mother well is sunk to the appropriate level of the aquifer.

UNESCO has it that “The qanats provide exceptional testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in desert areas with an arid climate.”

Throughout the arid regions of Iran, agricultural and permanent settlements are supported by the ancient qanat system of tapping alluvial aquifers at the heads of valleys and conducting the water along underground tunnels by gravity, often over many kilometers.

Some 37,000 out of a total of 120,000 ancient subsurface water supply systems, qanats, are still in use in Iran in arid and semi-arid regions of the country.


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