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Aqueducts, Darius the Great' Gift to Egyptians


24 October 2005

Following the arrival of Darius the Great the Achaemenid emperor, in Egypt, Egyptians who were proud of the water of the Nile River and their country springs, imitated the technique used by Iranian aqueduct diggers to provide water for their dry lands.

Historian Parviz Shahryari believes that aqueduct diggers went to Egypt with Darius to teach the Egyptians the method of digging aqueducts. According to Shahryari, it was Walter Hinz, the German archeologist and Iranologist, who found out this issue for the first time.

Rahim Velayati, another historian, mentions in an article on Achaemenid remains in Egypt, the same issue, of Darius taking with him his aqueduct diggers while conquering the land.

Many scientists know Iranian aqueducts a phenomenon of the ancient world, a phenomenon that appeared due to the talent and creativity of ancient Persians.

Later the technique for constructing aqueducts spread to other countries as well, such as Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

"Although it is probable that the construction of the first aqueducts in the south regions of the Persian Gulf goes back to the Achaemenid era, but for sure, the expansion and flourishing of the technique dates to the Sassanid dynasty, due to the Sassanids' special attention and relation with these regions," says Morteza Honari, an expert of Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Anthropology Center.

Quoting Arnold Wilson, Honari says that there are some evidence from the time Iran ruled over Oman; one is the first aqueducts in the region, and the other is the great dams in Bataineh plain and its rich aqueducts.

Aqueduct construction in Iran dates back to 3000 years ago. The remained evidence in historical fortresses around the country is a proof to this claim.

Iran's economy and cultural life were intertwined with its aqueducts since 3000 years ago. Aqueducts created big changes in providing access to water in ancient times. It is barely half a century that the system has lost its significance due to the new modern techniques for irrigation and water supply.

Iran is the world's cradle of aqueducts, and the central province of Yazd is today's remnant of such ancient yet utile system; even now 55 percent of the water of this city is supplied through aqueducts.

Right now, there are 31,000 aqueducts in Iran, from which more than 9 billion cubic meters of water is extracted annually.