Water History

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 53–71 | Cite as

The ethnoarchaeology of qanāt systems: a comparative study of water-sharing practices in the old world

Article

Abstract

Sharing the water flow from qanāts is important for many communities past and present and can often involve complex water-share systems. Studying and comparing historical sources and vernacular practices can help us to understand how this has and still is accomplished. Did the technical requirements of qanāts result in similar water management methods in different regions and at different times? Can modern practices of water management help to understand ancient practices and their evolution? Water sharing in many regions is done from memory without the help of archives; can we understand the historical trajectory of these sharing systems by studying textual documents relating to water management in ancient literate societies? Comparing the social systems of irrigation associated with qanāts, in North Africa and the Middle East, could be a significant step forward toward understanding the social context(s) for the digging and maintenance of qanāts. It would also contribute towards an understanding of the evolutionary path of qanāt systems and the social reasons behind their development or abandonment.

Keywords

Qanat Water-sharing Africa, Middle East Archaeology Anthropology 

Notes

Acknowledgement

The author would like to thank the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (Paris) and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (Cologne) for funding his research on ancient water systems through the granting of a Clemens Heller fellowship (Fernand Braudel-IFER program). He also wishes to express his gratitude to the Water Management group of Excellence Cluster Topoi (Freie Universität, Berlin). His thanks go also to Maël Crépy for his kind rereadings.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR 7041 Archéologie et Sciences de l’AntiquitéMaison René-Ginouvès 21allée de l’UniversitéNanterre CedexFrance

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