- Keywords: Iran, Cultural Landscape, Qanat, Hydraulic system, maqsam, muqannis, jub, payab, kort, Gonabad.
1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES
1.1 National and International Classification Lists
The cultural and historical value of Qanats Cultural Landscape is partially recognized in the Tentative List of UNESCO (“Qanats of Gonabad”), with date of submission: 09/08/2007, criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)(v)(vi), category: cultural, and ref.: 5207.
1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology
Organically evolved landscapesRelict (or fossil) landscape
Associative cultural landscape1
1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med
For more than two millenia a large proportion of the irrigation water used within the confines of the modern state of Iran has been supplied by annual horizontal walls knowns as qanats. The qanat system within an area represents a traditional response to the problem of water supply and irrigation and ir is particularly characteristic feature of the landscape of Iran. It is a method for developing and supplyng groundwater and consits of a gently sloping tunnel, cut through alluvial materia, which leads water by gravity flow from beneath the water table at its upper end to a ground surface outlet and irrigation canal at its lower end. Qanats are constructed by the hands labour of skilld workers known as muqannis using techniques which have altered little since qanat construction began. Qanat systems are found in Tehran, Garmsar, Semmar, Damghan, Shahrud, Sabzevan, Mashad, Gonabad, Zarand, Isfahan, Kashan, Ghazvin, in settlements, oases, villages, towns and cities. The built environments of most alluvial fan towns and villages on the Iranian Plateau are aligned along the major watercourses (shahjub) that run from the mouth of the qanat down slope through the length of the settlement. In larger and more complex basin settlements, smaller streams of water emanating from the points of division (maqsam) of several qanats form a spatial skeleton of parallel pathways lined by village structures, walled orchards, and gardens. They are trunk lines of human activity. Most alluvial fan settlements are triangular in shape. Below walled orchards and gardens at the top of the village, secondary distribution channels (jub) branch outward from the maqsam to form “water lattices” that broaden the area being cultivated. These smaller streams irrigate an elaborate grid of rectangular plots (kort) of irrigated land bounded by low, parallel levees. Interestingly, qanats also underlie the street patterns of larger cities as well. In some cities, qanat water flows in tunnels beneath residential areas and surfaces near the cultivated area. Staircases from the surface (payab) reach down to these streams. Only the Qanats of Gonabad are proposed in the Tentative List of UNESCO. The property contains of 427 water wells with a length of 33113 meters and has been constructed based on different sciences like physics, geology and hydraulics and made it possible for the inhabitants to live in such a dry land that it rains there scarcely. Med-O-Med has included the other qanats which are scattered in the Iranian territory to compose one Associative Cultural Landscape, where the historical and cultural values linked to these hydraulic system are pointed out.
2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY
- Current denomination Qanat.
- Current denomination Qanat.
- Original denomination Qanat.
- Popular denomination Qanat.
- Address: Tehran, Garmsar, Semmar, Damghan, Shahrud, Sabzevan, Mashad, Gonabad, Zarand, Isfahan, Kashan, Ghazvin.
- Geographical coordinates: Gonabad coordinates: 34°21′10″N 58°41′01″E
- Area, boundaries and surroundings: Almost all the qanat systems of Iran are found associated with large alluvial fons in the piedmont zone between the high mountains and the Kavir of salt desert, or in large alluvial valleys on the desert margin. The majority of these environments occur in a roughly circular peripheral zone around the Great Kavir of Central Iran. As a result of this fact, most of the qanat systems are found in the Central Plateu groundwater province of Iran. However, qanat systems often occur in the larger intermontane valleys of the Zagros mountains.
3. LEGAL ISSUES
- Owner: Iranian Government.
- Body responsible for the maintenance: Iranian Government.
- Legal protection: QANAT OWNERSHIP In many villages, qanat ownership is widely diffused throughout the population, and this widespread stake in the water supply system reinforces social cooperation. Qanats usually are built by wealthy individuals, but the constant need for tunnel repairs owing to natural disasters or social dislocations leads to rapid fragmentation in ownership. Many qanats have as many as two to three hundred owners and the water of some qanats is divided into as many as 10,000 time shares. In some cases, the system of dividing water goes back hundreds of years. The current division of water at Ardistan in central Iran, for example, dates back to the 1200s when Hulagu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, ordered that the town’s water be divided into twenty-one shares with each share allotted to a specific quarter. A complete record of changes in ownership exists for the Vakilabad qanat built in Mahan, a town southeast of Kirman, in the 1860s. Initially, its water was divided among three men in six shares. One-sixth of the water was allotted to the then custodian of the Shah Ni’matullah Vali Shrine. This portion has increased to one-third of the water and is now owned by twenty of his descendants. The remaining water was sold off bit by bit such that some seventy families now own shares in the qanat. In another qanat system in the same town, water ownership has fragmented to such a degree that the owner of the smallest portion has rights to only thirty seconds of water once every twelve days. In Lambton’s view, the historic inability of the Iranian upper class to retain property intact over time is the primary reason that Iran never developed a feudal aristocracy comparable to that of medieval Europe.
- Public or private organizations working in the site: There is a UNESCO water related center called "Qanat" which fulfills its mission under the auspices of this organization. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran formally submitted to UNESCO a detailed proposal for the establishment of the International Center on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures in Yazd, Iran under the auspices of UNESCO, which finally met with the 32nd session of the General Conference of UNESCO’s approval. According to this approval, an agreement on the establishment of the center was signed by the director general of UNESCO and the Iran’s minister of energy on March 26th 2005. Following that agreement, the Headquarters for the International Center on Qanats and Historic, Hydraulic Structures was designed and built in Yazd. This building, with an area of 2000 square meters is located downtown surrounded by some other research centers in Yazd. It enjoys a dome-like roof and an octagonal building with a pool in the middle reminding us of the Qanat vestibules. It is focused on: · Research · Training · Technology transfer · Scientific gathering · Publication · Cooperation
Qanats first appeared in the mountains of Kurdistan in western Iran, eastern Turkey, and northern Iraq more than 2,500 years ago in association with early mining in that region. Several factors explain this origin. Most importantly, perhaps, this region is one of the oldest mining and metallurgical centers in the Middle East. The need to dig tunnels in the search for minerals meant that the inhabitants of the region had mastered the basic technology necessary for qanat construction. Qanats differ little from the horizontal adits dug into hillsides by early miners. Indeed, these adits may well have been sloped to drain unwanted seepage as they are today. Additionally, and somewhat ironically, the earliest report of a qanat system is chronicled on a tablet narrating the destruction of the qanats which provided water to the city of Ulhu (modern Ula), located at the northwestern end of Lake Urmia by Sargon II in 714 BC. Soon thereafter, Assyrian cities, particularly those located on the upper Tigris River, relied on qanats for drinking water. Some- what later, the capital city of the Medes, Ecbatana (modern Hamadan) was watered by qanats as was Darius’s capital city of Persepolis. Under the Achaemenids (550–331 BC), when Persian rule extended from the Indus to the Nile, qanat technology spread well beyond the confines of the Iranian Plateau. The Achaemenid rulers provided a major incentive for qanat construction by allowing qanat builders and their heirs to retain profits from newly-built qanats for five generations. As a result, thousands of new settle- ments were established and others expanded. To the west, qanats were constructed from Mesopotamia to the shores of the Mediterranean as well as southward into parts of Egypt and Arabia. They were particularly important sources of water in the foothills of eastern Iraq, the Syrian Desert, and the Hadhramaut. In the Yemen and in Oman, qanats are locally called falaj (plural: aflaj). To the east of Iran, where they are generally known by the Persian term kariz, qanats came into use in Afghanistan, the Silk Road oases settlements of Central Asia, and the Chinese province of Sinkiang (now Xinjiang), although whether this diffusion occurred under the Achaemenids or some later Persian dynasty is uncertain. Strangely, in the Turfan Basin, which has one of the most extensive qanat systems in the world, it is possible that many of the qanats were built by imported Turki laborers in the 1700s. The expansion of Islam initiated a second major diffusion of qanat technology. The early Arab invasions spread qanats across North Africa into Spain, Cyprus, and the Canary Islands. In most of North Africa, they were called fughara, and were built and maintained by a specialized caste of black slaves. In Morocco, qanats were referred to as khittara (or rhettara).
- Oldest initial date /building and inauguration date: More than 2500 years ago.
5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION
5.1. Natural heritage
- Heritage: Other
- Geography: High Mountain
- Site topography: Natural
- Climate and environmental conditions: Most of teh qanat systems are situated in those areas receiving precipitation totals of between 100-300 mm. Such precipitation values are below the minimun anual needed for crop production.
- Geological and Geographical characteristics: Almost all the qanat systems of Iran are found associated with large alluvial fons in the piedmont zone between the high mountains and the Kavir of salt desert, or in large alluvial valleys on the desert margin. The majority of these environments occur in a roughly circular peripheral zone around the Great Kavir of Central Iran. As a result of this fact, most of the qanat systems are found in the Central Plateu groundwater province of Iran. However, qanat systems often occur in the larger intermontane valleys of the Zagros mountains.
Land uses and economical activities:Hydraulic system applied in agriculture.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:In the central part of Iran farming practices are dominated by the production of cereals (wheat and barley). Other crops include melons, fruits and vegetables, and in some areas, as near Ghazvin, commercial crops such as cotton are being encoureged. Animal husbandry is largely confined to the grazing of shep and goats on very poor quality pasture. For the most part, despite plans for teh future modernization, agricultural techniques and practices are geared towards subsistence agricultrual production.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:
Qanats are still found throughout the regions that came under the cultural sphere of the Persians, Romans, and Arabs. It is a method for developing and supplyng groundwater and consits of a gently sloping tunnel, cut through alluvial materia, which leads water by gravity flow from beneath the water table at its upper end to a ground surface outlet and irrigation canal at its lower end. Qanat systems are found in Tehran, Garmsar, Semmar, Damghan, Shahrud, Sabzevan, Mashad, Gonabad, Zarand, Isfahan, Kashan, Ghazvin.
5.2. Cultural Heritage
A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general
In the case of gardens: original and current style:It is not the case.
Man-made elements related to water management:
Domestic, industrial ensembles, energy related systems:
B) Related to ancient remains
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values
- Languages and dialects: Persian
- Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: A qanat system has a profound influence on the lives of the water users. It allows those living in a desert environment adjacent to a mountain watershed to create a large oasis in an otherwise stark environment.
Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:In many places qanat system is being rapidly replaced as a supplier of groundwater by production form deep wells. In the Ghazvin area, for example, an integrated programme for the optimus use of local water supplies instituted by the Iranian Government in the early 1960's has the objetive of increased and improved groundwatere development by pumped wells. As consequence, the water table of the area has been lowered aand a large number of qanats have been dewatered.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:
Qanat systems in all the sites mentioned in this file.
- Living heritage
- Maintenance quality
Authenticity:Qanats appear to have originated in the vicinity of Armenia more than 2500 years ago and spread rapidly throughout south est Asia and north Africa during Achaemenid times (550 to 331 B.C). A qanat system has a profound influence on the lives of the water users. It allows those living in a desert environment adjacent to a mountain watershed to create a large oasis in an otherwise stark environment.
Universality:Qanats are renewable water supply systems that have sustained agricultural settlement on the Iranian plateau for millennia. By their very nature, qanats have encouraged sustainable water use. A qanat system has a profound influence on the lives of the water users. It allows those living in a desert environment adjacent to a mountain watershed to create a large oasis in an otherwise stark environment. To describe the universality of "Qanats Cultural Landscape", Med-O-Med agrees to the UNESCO criteria proposed in the Tentative Lis for the Qanats of Gonadad (ii, iii, iv, v, vi): ii) Qanat system exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in water technology and landscape design, contributing to the oases development. iii) Qanats bear an unique testimony to the pesian cultural tradition. iv) They are an outstanding example of a type of technological ensemble related to wateer management with an history of more than 2000 years, which illustrates significants stages in human history. v) Qanats are an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement and water use which is representative of the iranian culture. Qanats defined village lifeworlds on the plateau by (1) determining settlement location, (2) structuring built environments within settlements, and (3) requiring social cohesion in water allocation, water distribution, water use, and system maintenance. vi) This hydraulic system is directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:Although the methods of qanat construction were carried westwards into the Mediterranen and subsequently into Latin America, qanats and qanat systems attained their maximun development in Iran. They are a tangible expression of Islamic culture and define a way of relation betwen persian people and natural resources (water). The expansion of Islam was involved in the international diffusion of qanat technology. The early Arab invasions spread qanats westward across North Africa and into Cyprus, Sicily, Spain, and the Canary Islands.
Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):
Qanats Cultural Landscape is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Iran which are included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.
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Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.