Qan?t and Falaj : Polycentric and Multi-Period Innovations

Iran and the United Arab Emirates as Case Studies

Authored by: Rémy Boucharlat

Underground Aqueducts Handbook

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781498748308
eBook ISBN: 9781315368566
Adobe ISBN:


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The most common word used by local peoples and scholars for defining these galleries, qan?t, has been supposed to refer to a peculiar kind of water catchment, with a mother well dug deep under the surface, mainly on alluvial fans and piedmont afar from springs and rivers (Figures 17.1 and 17.2). Concerning the first examples of these underground aqueducts, all the studies until the end of the last century firmly attributed their invention to the Iranians in the early first millennium BC, following H. Goblot's book (Goblot 1979). This position cannot be longer maintained. Qan?t, a word of Arabic root, is the most frequently term used…in Iran, while the Persian word k?rez, k?riz is spread mainly in Eastern Iran and more frequently in Afghanistan. Qan?t and k?riz are used in the Iranian world by people, engineers, and scholars for any type of shafts-and-gallery aqueduct capturing groundwater; thus, these two words should be considered very generic terms. In a few cases, the anthropologist or the geographer studying a local network of galleries may obtain from the villagers a precision, a second term added for defining the type of water resource the qan?t catches. However, this secondary word changes with the region under consideration (see Section 17.4.1).

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