Part of ancient Iranian water system structure collapses

February 14, 2011 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- A part of the ancient water system of canals, tunnels and waterfalls in Shushtar has collapsed as a result of heavy rainfalls last week.

The collapse occurred in the Gargar Bridge, one of the 13 parts of the water system, which has been registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009.
No action has been taken to prevent more collapses as the destruction continues, the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Lovers Society (Tariana) spokesman Mojtaba Gahestuni told the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency on Sunday.
A part of the Gargar collapsed two years ago due to deterioration as well as cars driving over the bridge, he said.
“Now, even the people walking over the bridge are causing damage to the structure,” he warned.
He urged establishing an international committee to work on preventing more destruction to the ancient water system, which may also be added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger, because of the destruction.
The man-made Shushtar waterfalls are located near the Elamite capital of Susa in Khuzestan Province. Construction of the structures began during the Achaemenid era (about 550-331 BC) on one of the Gargar River’s tributaries and the system was then improved by the Sassanid dynasty (224-651 CE).
The waterworks are comprised of bridges, dams, mills, aquifers, reservoirs, tunnels, and canals, most of which were constructed in the Sassanid period especially during the reign of Shapur I (241-272 CE).
The structures were used as an irrigation system and encouraged cultural interactions within the region. The waterfalls presented visitors with a beautiful and unique landscape, while enjoying the results of hydraulic engineering technology rare at that point in history.
The Shushtar waterfalls are among the few ancient water systems in Iran used for irrigating the Shushtar plain. Remnants of some of the many water wheels built at the waterfalls during the Safavid era (1501-1722) are still visible.
Photo: A part of Shushtar’s ancient water system in an undated photo