The Persian Qanat

The Persian Qanat

Throughout the arid regions of Iran, agricultural and permanent settlements are supported by the ancient qanat system of tapping alluvial aquifers at the heads of valleys and conducting the water along underground tunnels by gravity, often over many kilometres. The eleven qanats representing this system include rest areas for workers, water reservoirs and watermills. The traditional communal management system still in place allows equitable and sustainable water sharing and distribution. The qanats provide exceptional testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in desert areas with an arid climate.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Le qanat perse

Dans l'ensemble des régions arides de l'Iran, des établissements agricoles et permanents sont soutenus par l'ancien système de qanats qui puisent l'eau des sources aquifères en amont des vallées et la font circuler par gravité le long de tunnels souterrains, souvent sur de nombreux kilomètres. Les 11 qanats qui représentent ce système comprennent des aires de repos pour les travailleurs, des réservoirs d'eau et des moulins à eau. Le système de gestion communautaire traditionnel encore en place permet un partage et une distribution de l'eau équitables et durables. Les qanats fournissent un témoignage exceptionnel sur des traditions culturelles et des civilisations de zones désertiques au climat aride.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

القناة الفارسية
في المناطق القاحلة في ايران، يستخدم نظام القنوات القديم في ري الأراضي الزراعية حيث يتم سحب المياه من مصادر المياه الجوفيّة في الوديان ثم يتم نقلها بفضل الجاذبيّة الأرضيّة عبر الأنفاق المجهزة تحت الأرض والتي تمتدّ أحياناً لبضعة كيلومترات. هذا وتمتلك القنوات الإحدى عشرة التي يضمها هذا الموقع، مناطق راحة للعمال وخزانات للمياه وطواحين مائية. ويمكّن نظام الإدارة التقليديّة المستخدم حتى يومنا هذا من توزيع المياه على نحو متساوٍ ومستدام. وتشهد هذه القنوات على التقاليد الثقافيّة وعلى الحضارات التي تعاقبت على المناطق الصحراويّة ذات المناخ الجاف.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

波斯坎儿井

在伊朗干旱的地区,坎儿井这一古老水利系统的支持使得农业和定居成为可能。坎儿井利用重力,将上游河谷的水通过长达数千米的地下暗渠引到下游。构成这个水利系统的不仅有组成这一遗产地的11条坎儿井,还有工人休息区,小水库以及水磨坊。时至今日仍在实行的传统管理方式,使当地得以可持续地平均分配和共享水源。坎儿井是干旱气候下沙漠地带传统文化和文明的独特证明。

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Персидский кяриз
В засушливых районах Ирана для нужд сельского хозяйства используется древняя система кяризов. Данная технология позволяет производить сбор воды из водоносных источников, расположенных на верхних участках долин, а затем, под действием силы тяжести, перемещать её по подземным туннелям зачастую на многие километры. Данный объект представляет собой систему из одиннадцати кяризов, включающую также зоны для отдыха рабочих, водохранилища и водяные мельницы. Всё ещё действующая традиционная система управления обеспечивает справедливое и устойчивое использование и распределение воды. Кяризы являются уникальным свидетельством культурных традиций и обычаев народов, проживающих в пустынных районах с засушливым климатом.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

El qanat persa

En el conjunto de las regiones áridas de Irán, la agricultura es sostenida por el antiguo sistema de riego de los qanats, que toman el agua de los acuíferos en lo alto de los valles y la hacen circular por túneles subterráneos que a menudo miden varios kilómetros. Los once qanats que componen este sitio y representan este sistema comprenden también zonas de reposo para los trabajadores, depósitos de agua y molinos hidráulicos. Este sistema tradicional de gestión del agua todavía funciona y permite un reparto equitativo y sostenible del recurso. Los qanats aportan un testimonio excepcional de las tradiciones culturales y las civilizaciones de zonas desérticas de clima árido.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

イランの地下水路カナート
乾燥した砂漠の文明が生んだ灌漑システム。イランの乾燥地域では、農業を営む恒久的な集落は、古代のカナートによって支えられている。カナートとは、水が渓谷の上部沖積地の帯水層から、時には何キロにもわたり、重力に従って地下トンネルを流れるという灌漑システムである。11のカナートはこのシステムを代表し、労働者たちの憩いの場や貯水槽・水車場なども提供するもので、伝統的な地域社会の管理システムとして、現在も適切かつ公平で持続的に水を分配して供給している。カナートは、乾燥気候の砂漠地帯における文化的伝統と文明の極めて重要な証拠である。

source: NFUAJ

Het Perzisch Qanat

In de droge regio's van Iran worden agrarische en permanente nederzettingen vaak voorzien van water door het eeuwenoude qanat-systeem. Met behulp van de zwaartekracht tapt men via ondergrondse tunnels – vaak van kilometers lang – water af uit hoger gelegen grondwaterhoudende bodemlagen, ook wel aquifers genoemd. De elf qanaten waaruit het systeem bestaat bevatten rustplaatsen voor arbeiders, waterreservoirs en watermolens. Het traditionele gemeenschappelijke watermanagementsysteem functioneert nog altijd en maakt een gelijkwaardige en duurzame vorm van waterverdeling mogelijk. De qanaten zijn een exceptioneel voorbeeld van culturele tradities en beschavingen in droge woestijngebieden.

Source: unesco.nl

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The Persian Qanat: Aerial View, Jupar, Bagh-e Shahzadeh (Mahan) © S.H. Rashedi
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Throughout the arid regions of Iran, agricultural and permanent settlements are supported by the ancient qanat system of tapping alluvial aquifers at the heads of valleys and conducting the water along underground tunnels by gravity, often over many kilometres.

Each qanat comprises an almost horizontal tunnel collecting water from an underground water source, usually an alluvial fan, into which a mother well is sunk to the appropriate level of the aquifer. Well shafts are sunk at regular intervals along the route of the tunnel to enable removal of spoil and allow ventilation. These appear as craters from above, following the line of the qanat from water source to agricultural settlement. The water is transported along underground tunnels, so-called koshkan, by means of gravity due to the gentle slope of the tunnel to the exit (mazhar), from where it is distributed by channels to the agricultural land of the shareholders.

The levels, gradient and length of the qanat are calculated by traditional methods requiring the skills of experienced qanat workers and have been handed down over centuries. Many qanats have sub branches and water access corridors for maintenance purposes, as well as dependant structures including rest areas for the qanat workers, public and private hamams, reservoirs and watermills. The traditional communal management system still in place allows equitable and sustainable water sharing and distribution.

Criterion (iii): The Persian Qanat system is an exceptional testimony to the tradition of providing water to arid regions to support settlements. The technological and communal achievements of the qanats play a vital role of qanat in the formation of various civilisations. Its crucial importance for the larger arid region is expressed in the name of the desert plateau of Iran which is called “Qanat Civilisation”. Dispersion of primary settlements on alluvial fans of the inner plateau and deserts of Iran is immediately related with the distribution pattern of qanat system across the country. The system also presents an exceptional living cultural tradition of communal management of water resources.

Criterion (iv): The Persian Qanat system is an outstanding example of a technological ensemble illustrating significant stages in the history of human occupation of arid and semi-arid regions. Based on complex calculations and exceptional architectural qualities, water was collected and transported by mere gravity over long distances and these transport systems were maintained over centuries and, at times, millennia. The qanat system enabled settlements and agriculture but also inspired the creation of a desert-specific style of architecture and landscape involving not only the qanats themselves, but their associated structures, such as water reservoirs, mills, irrigation systems, and gardens.

Integrity

The eleven qanats forming this property are still active water carriers and have retained not only their architectural and technological structures but also their function. They continue to provide the essential resource water sustaining Iranian settlements and gardens and remain maintained and managed through traditional communal management systems. These management systems have remained intact and been transferred from the distant past thanks to the collaboration of people and users.

To ensure the continued functionality of the qanats, the water catchment areas are included in the buffer zone and have been committed to highest protection levels considering their essential function in the provision of the water resources. Likewise, the agricultural areas illustrating the distribution and use of the water resources have been protected through buffer zones to allow the full long-term protection of the qanat system.

Authenticity

The authenticity of the eleven qanats has been respected regarding design, technology, building materials, traditions, techniques, management systems as well as intangible heritage associations based on knowledge of the natural environment, material technology and the indigenous culture. Qanats have been founded and constructed based on social collaboration, communal trust and honesty as well as common sense. Furthermore, their stability and functionality has been managed, preserved, expanded and developed based on such joint cooperation.

Protection and management requirements

The eleven qanats comprising this series are included in the national register of monuments of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their catchment and irrigation areas have been included in specifically designed protective zones with status of buffer zones. The further elaboration and completion of an inventory of the eleven components will assist in monitoring and communicating the full scope of protected attributes.

The overall management of the serial nomination is coordinated by a Steering Committee comprising representatives of the Qanat Councils and relevant government departments including the Cultural Heritage Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO), Natural Resources, Agriculture, Energy, Road and Urban Development, Environment Protection Organisation, Rural Housing Foundation and NGOs relating to cultural heritage and the environment. Daily management concerns are considered through the ICHHTO National Qanat Base which acts through ICHHTO’s provincial offices. A Management Strategy and Action Plan was outlined at the time of nomination, which will be further developed into management and maintenance plans for the individual components These will include interpretation and tourism management plans as well as risk preparedness and disaster response strategies.

The eleven qanats are managed under traditional supervision of qanat councils, each qanat with its local qanat council composed of those knowledgeable in the respective region. The traditional management systems of the inscribed qanats contribute to their unique value but are also essential to their continued preservation and transmission to future generations. Historical knowledge and craft skills preserved over many generations need to be continuously handed down to ensure the future viability of this property. This management system, set up by owners, distributors, consumers and ordinary people, has developed and evolved with the passage of time which has made qanats survive until today and will be the key to their future conservation.

The eleven qanats are further supported by financial and technical means through national resources, and conservation and management measures at all qanats are underway respecting their authenticity and integrity.