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Encyclopedia > Traditional water sources of Persian antiquity

Most rivers in Iran are seasonal and have traditionally not been able to supply the needs of urban settlements. Rivers like Arvand or Aras or Zayandeh Rud or Sefid Rud or Atrak were few and far between in the vast lands of Persian antiquity. The Shatt al-Arab (Arabic: شط العرب) or Arvand (called اروندرود: arvandrūd in Persian), also called the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, is a river in Southwest Asia of some 200 km in length, formed by the confluence of the Euphrates and the Tigris in southern Iraq. ... Aras, Araks, Arax, Araxes, or Araz (Persian: ارس, Armenian: Araks, Azerbaijani: Araz), is a river rising in Anatolia in Turkey, flowing along the Turkey-Armenia border, then along the Azerbaijan-Iran border, entering Azerbaijan, and falling into Kura river as a right tributary. ... Sefid Rud (sÄ•fÄ“d´ rd) or Safid Rud , river, c. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ...


With the growth of urban settlements during the ages, locally dug deep wells (up to 100 meters deep) could no longer keep up with the demand, leading to the systematic digging of a specialized network of canals known as Qanat. A qanat is a water management system used to provide a reliable supply of water to human settlements or for irrigation in hot arid and semi-arid climates. ...

Contents


Qanat and Kariz

A Qanat surfacing in Niavaran, Tehran. It is used for watering the grounds of The National Library of Iran.
Enlarge
A Qanat surfacing in Niavaran, Tehran. It is used for watering the grounds of The National Library of Iran.

Persia’s Qanat system dates back long ways, probably thousands of years old (5, 188). The Qanats mostly came in from higher elevations, and were split into a distributing network of smaller underground canals called kariz when reaching the city. Like Qanats, these smaller canals were below ground (~20 steps), and were built such that they were very difficult to become contaminated. A qanat is a water management system used to provide a reliable supply of water to human settlements or for irrigation in hot arid and semi-arid climates. ... The Niavaran branch of the National Library of Iran offers a pleasant environment for its users. ... Map of Iran and surrounding lands, showing location of Tehran Tehran is a metropolis of 14 million situated at the foot of the towering Alborz range. ... Image:Milli Library. ...


But with the further growth of the city in Persian lands, even the Qanats could not respond to the needs of residents. That is when some wealthy inhabitants started building private reservoirs called ab anbar. An ab anbar with double domes and windcatchers in the central desert city of Naeen, near Yazd. ...


Ab anbar

See main article: Ab anbar An ab anbar with double domes and windcatchers in the central desert city of Naeen, near Yazd. ...


Ab Anbars have a long history in Iran, and there are still some ab anbars remaining today from the 13th century. These reservoirs would be subterranean spaces that were connected to the network of kariz in the city. A typical residential ab anbar would be located in the enclosed garden, have the capacity to hold 50 cubic meters, would be filled once every two weeks, and have its inside surfaces cleaned from sediments once a year (called layeh-rubi). An ab anbar with double domes and windcatchers in the central desert city of Naeen, near Yazd. ...


Soon public ab anbars were constructed throughout cities across Persia such as Qazvin, Yazd, Naeen, Kashan, Ray, Shiraz, Heart, Balkh, and others. At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of public ab anbars in Qazvin, for example, was recorded to be 151 (6, 408). Yet Iran still has 30,000 active Qanat systems today.[7] Persia can refer to: the Western name for Iran. ... Qazvin may refer to: Qazvin (city) Qazvin province Note: Qazvin province was created in 1996; older references to Qazvin are invariably to the city. ... The city of Yazd, as seen from the tall minarets of its 12th century mosque. ... For historical city in Volga Bulgaria and Khanate of Kazan see Qashan Arial view of the Tabatabaei House. ... Ray may refer to: An electrical ray: see laser. ... Shiraz can refer to: Shiraz, Iran Shiraz grape/wine This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The heart and lungs (from an older edition of Grays Anatomy) The heart (Latin cor) is a hollow, muscular organ that pumps blood through the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions. ... Today Balkh is a small town in the Province of Balkh, Afghanistan, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some 74 km (46 miles) south of the Amu Darya, the Oxus River of antiquity, of which a tributary formerly flowed past Balkh. ... Qazvin may refer to: Qazvin (city) Qazvin province Note: Qazvin province was created in 1996; older references to Qazvin are invariably to the city. ...


Accounts differ, but the water quality generally seemed to be satisfactory. Water temperatures of Kashan’s famous Qanat of ‘’cheshmeh-e Soleiman’’ amidst the July heat is typically around 25 degrees centigrade. Furthermore, ab anbars tend to further lower the temperature of the water due to the fascinating heat resistance properties of the construction material used. Near freezing temperatures of the water can readily be observed in the desert central city of Naeen during summer, inside an ab anbar that employs multiple windcatchers. Thus the Qanat/ab anbar system was easily able to supply the needs of many growing cities (such as medieval Qazvin) year round (2, 311). For historical city in Volga Bulgaria and Khanate of Kazan see Qashan Arial view of the Tabatabaei House. ... Qazvin may refer to: Qazvin (city) Qazvin province Note: Qazvin province was created in 1996; older references to Qazvin are invariably to the city. ...


Location

This Qanat surfacing in Fin is from a spring thought to be several thousand years in running, called The Spring of Solomon ("Cheshmeh-ye Soleiman"). It is thought to have been feeding adjacent Sialk since antiquity.
Enlarge
This Qanat surfacing in Fin is from a spring thought to be several thousand years in running, called The Spring of Solomon ("Cheshmeh-ye Soleiman"). It is thought to have been feeding adjacent Sialk since antiquity.

Public ab anbars were often built wherever demand dictated. But factors such as accessibility of ab anbars to karizes, ease of accessibility of the public to the ab anbars, and a homogeneous density of the ab anbars in each area determined the size and location of an ab anbar. A qanat is a water management system used to provide a reliable supply of water to human settlements or for irrigation in hot arid and semi-arid climates. ... The 5500 year old skeletons and other unearthed artifacts here are preserved and off access to visitors. ...


As an example, in terms of network coverage, one could classify the karizes of Qazvin into three groups: Qazvin may refer to: Qazvin (city) Qazvin province Note: Qazvin province was created in 1996; older references to Qazvin are invariably to the city. ...

  • Northwest karizes. The major ones were:
    • Kariz of Khomar e Tashi (a famous vizier).
    • Kariz of Akhund
    • Kariz of Shah
  • North Karizes. The major ones being:
    • Kariz of Halal Abad
    • Kariz of Asghar Khani
    • Kariz of Teifuri
    • Kariz of Khiyaban
  • Northeast karizes. The major ones being:
    • Kariz of Hatambeig Khatuni
    • Kariz of Mirza Rasuli
    • Kariz of Agha Jalali
    • Kariz of Sheikh Ahmadi

Each of these karizes covered a specific neighborhood and often further branched into sub-karizes as they went along serving private and public ab anbars.


Yet most ab anbars ended up being located in proximity or adjacent to commercial, religious, or other public places of interest. Many ab anbars would be located at busy intersections. Unfortunately the urban fabric of many cities in early 20th century Iran has changed dramatically over the years. Hence the ab anbars today seem to be situated out of place.


Preservation

In Qazvin, which was once dubbed as the city of ab anbars (4, 99), today less than 10 ab anbars remain intact from the destructive forces of hasty modern urban development. Of the other 100 or so ab anbars that used to be scattered throughout Qazvin, only parts (such as the steps, the entrance, or the storage) remain. Most have been destroyed by housing projects and private developers. In Qazvin, none are functional anymore. However ab anbars continue to be used in some areas in rural Yazd and urban Naeen. Qanats are mostly used in rural areas and/or for agriculture.

Fully intact surviving ab anbars of Qazvin in order of capacity
Ab anbar name Dimensions (m) Capacity (m3)
Sardar-e Bozorg 17 x 17 x 17 4900
Jame’ Mosque 37.5 x 10 x 10 3750
Nabi Mosque 36 x 10 x 10 3600
Sardar-e Kuchak 20 x 19 x 5.5 2090
Haj Kazem 26 x 7.5 x 10 1950
Hakim 18 x 18 x 6 1944
Agha 11.5 x 10.25 x 5.5 648
Razavi Caravanserai 14.5 x 6.5 x 5 471
Zobideh Khatun 11.5 x 2.65 x 6.5 198


Explosive migratory trends in Iran in the past 30 years have stemmed a wave of hasty urbanization inside the old quarters of ancient cities, destroying their original fabric. Some fare better than others though. Thus for example when comparing Qazvin to Yazd, Qazvin has less surviving ab anbars despite the fact that Yazd’s ab anbars have been retired for much longer time spans. (5, 192)


References

  1. Memari e Islami e Iran. M. K. Pirnia. ISBN 964-454-093-x
  2. Minudar or Babuljanne. Gulriz, Mohammad Ali. Taha publications. 3rd printing. Qazvin. 1381 (2002). ISBN: 964-6228-61-5
  3. Qazvin: ayinah-yi tarikh va tabi’at-i iran. Hazrati, Mohammad Ali. Sazeman e Irangardi va Jahangardi publications. Qazvin. 1382 (2003). ISBN: 964-7536-35-6
  4. Saimaa-yi ustaan-I Qazvain. Haji aqa Mohammadi, Abbas. Taha Publications. Qazvin. 1378 (1998). ISBN: 964-6228-09-7
  5. Memari-ye ab anbar haye shahr e Qazvin. Memarian, Gholamhosein. Asar. Vol 35. Iran Cultural Heritage Organization publications. Tehran. (p187-197).
  6. Sair e Tarikhi e banaayi Shahr e Qazvin va Banaha-yi an. Siyaghi, Dr. Seyd Mohammad Dabir. Iran Cultural Heritage Organization publications. Qazvin. 2002. ISBN: 964-7536-29-1
  7. Old ways of water management spring up again in arid regions. M.J. Strauss. International Herald Tribune. Aug 20, 2005.

The International Herald Tribune (or IHT) is an English-language newspaper fully owned by The New York Times Company, which — along with its own staff journalists and news agencies — supplies it with news and features. ...

See also

Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Isfahan, arguably the gem of Persian architectural masterpieces. ... An ab anbar with double domes and windcatchers in the central desert city of Naeen, near Yazd. ...

 
 

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