Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman

Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman

The property includes five aflaj irrigation systems and is representative of some 3,000 such systems still in use in Oman. The origins of this system of irrigation may date back to AD 500, but archaeological evidence suggests that irrigation systems existed in this extremely arid area as early as 2500 BC. Using gravity, water is channelled from underground sources or springs to support agriculture and domestic use. The fair and effective management and sharing of water in villages and towns is still underpinned by mutual dependence and communal values and guided by astronomical observations. Numerous watchtowers built to defend the water systems form part of the site reflecting the historic dependence of communities on the aflaj system. Threatened by falling level of the underground water table, the aflaj represent an exceptionally well-preserved form of land use.

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

Systèmes d’irrigation aflaj d’Oman

Les cinq systèmes d’irrigation inscrits représentent les quelques 3 000 systèmes d’irrigation encore en activité en Oman. La construction la plus ancienne pourrait remonter aux environs de 500 apr. J.C. mais des preuves archéologiques récentes suggèrent que les systèmes d’irrigation existaient dans la région dès 2 500 av. J.-C. Ce système d’irrigation conduit l’eau des sources souterraines, par gravité, sur des kilomètres pour alimenter l’agriculture et les peuplements permanents. La gestion et le partage équitable et efficace de l’eau dans les villages et les villes sont toujours sous-tendus par des notions de dépendance mutuelle et de collectivité, et guidés par des observations astronomiques. De nombreuses tours de guet construites pour défendre les systèmes d’adduction d’eau sont intégrées au site. Elles reflètent la dépendance des communautés aux aflaj . Menacé par la baisse du niveau des eaux souterraines, l'aflaj représente une forme d’occupation des sols exceptionnellement bien conservée.

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

أنظمة الري ( الأفلاج)

تمثل أنظمة الري الخمسة المسجلة حوالي 000 3 نظام ري تستعمل حتى الآن في عُمان. ويعود أقدم بناء لها إلى حوالي 500 م، ولكن الأدلة الأثرية الأخيرة تشير إلى أنّ أنظمة الري كانت موجودة في المنطقة منذ 2500 ق م. يجلب هذا النظام في الري الماء من المصادر الجوفية، على مدى كيلومترات، كي يغذي الزراعة والسكان المقيمين. تتحكم في إدارة المياه وتوزيعها توزيعًا عادلاً وفاعلاً، في المدن والقرى، مفاهيمُ التعاون المتبادل والعيش المشترك، وهي تتبع الملاحظة الفلكية. وقد ضُم إلى الموقع عدد من أبراج المراقبة التي أقيمت لحماية أنظمة الري. وهي تعكس اعتماد الناس على الأفلاج. ويهدد انخفاض مستوى المياه الجوفية نظام الأفلاج، التي تقدم شكلاً متميزًا من استثمار الأرض لا يزال محافظا عليه حتى الآن.

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

阿曼的阿夫拉贾灌溉体系

这处世界遗产包含了5个阿夫拉贾(Aflaj)灌溉体系,同时也是3000个在阿曼仍然使用中的系统的典型代表。这种灌溉系统的由来可以追朔到公元500年左右,但是从考古学上的证据来看,这个应用在极端干燥地区的灌溉系统应该早在公元前2500年就已经存在。Aflaj是falai的复数形式,在传统阿拉伯语中的意思是公平地划分珍贵的稀有资源,以确保能永续性地维持这种灌溉系统的特征。在水资源方面则是利用重力,从地底或涌出的山泉中将水导出,用来供应家庭用水以及农业灌溉所需,这种灌溉系统通常能供应数公里以上的距离。至于村落及城镇间如何公平且有效的管理及分配水资源的机制,至今依然建立在彼此间的信赖和公共利益上,并且透过大量的观测数据来引导。同时这里建造了为数众多的瞭望台来保护水资源系统,从列入遗产的某些部分可反映出社区对阿夫拉贾体系的历史性依赖。其他被包含在该遗迹的建筑还有清真寺、房屋、日晷以及拍卖水的大楼。由于受到地下水水层持续下降的威胁,阿夫拉贾灌溉系统代表一种被保护得极好的土地使用形式。

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

Оманские ирригационные системы «афладж»

Объект включает пять ирригационных систем «афладж», представляя около 3000 подобных систем, все еще используемых в Омане. Зарождение такого способа ирригации может относиться к 500 г. н.э., но археологические свидетельства показывают, что системы ирригации существовали в этом исключительно засушливом регионе еще в 2500 г. до н.э. «Афладж» – это множественное число от «фаладж», что на классическом арабском означает: разделять на доли и равномерно распределять ограниченные ресурсы, в чем и состоит специфичность этих ирригационных систем. Вода из подземных источников или ключей направляется под воздействием силы тяжести, зачастую на многие километры, для обеспечения сельского хозяйства и бытовых нужд. Эффективное управление и справедливое распределение воды в деревнях и городах все еще поддерживаются благодаря сохранению межобщинных связей, следованию традиционным ценностям, и основываются на астрономических наблюдениях. Многочисленные сторожевые башни, построенные для защиты водохозяйственных систем, также входящие в состав объекта Всемирного наследия, демонстрируют историческую зависимость местных сообществ от системы «афладж». В состав объекта также включены мечети, жилые дома, солнечные часы и здания для проведения водных аукционов, связанные с системой «афладж» Находящиеся под угрозой в связи с понижением уровня подземных вод, системы «афладж» представляют собой исключительно хорошо сохранившуюся форму природопользования.

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

Aflajs, sistemas de irrigación de Omán

Los cinco aflajs inscritos son representativos de los 3.000 sistemas de irrigación análogos todavía utilizados en Omán. Su origen se remonta al año 500, aunque hay pruebas arqueológicas de que ya existían en esta región particularmente árida desde el año 2.500 a.C. Aprovechando la fuerza de la gravedad, hacen discurrir por canales el agua de capas subterráneas o manantiales para destinarla al regadío de cultivos o usos domésticos. La gestión y el reparto eficaz y equitativo del agua en las ciudades y pueblos se siguen basando en la solidaridad y los valores comunes de la colectividad, y continúan guiándose por observaciones astronómicas. El sitio comprende numerosas torres vigías edificadas para defender los aflajs, que ponen de relieve la importancia vital de estos sistemas de aducción de agua para las comunidades. Amenazados por el descenso del nivel de las aguas subterráneas, los aflajs son representativos de una forma de ocupación del suelo extraordinariamente bien preservada.

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

アフラージュ、オマーンの灌漑システム
オマーン国ではファラジ(複数形はアフラージュ)と呼ばれる、農業用及び家庭用の灌漑システムが約3000ヵ所で稼動しており、代表的な5つが世界遺産に登録された。極端に乾燥したこの地域でのファラジの起源は、紀元500年に遡るといわれるが、紀元前2500年にはすでにファラジが存在していたとする考古的資料もある。土地の傾斜と地下水路を利用し、不足している水資源を継続的かつ公平に分配するというこの灌漑システムは、土地の有効活用の顕著な見本でもある。水の分配は天体観測により行われたため、日時計や、水系を守るための多数の観測塔、水の競売を行う建物、モスクなども世界遺産に登録された。

source: NFUAJ

Aflaj irrigatiesystemen van Oman

Dit gebied omvat vijf 'Aflaj' irrigatiesystemen en is representatief voor ongeveer 3.000 van dergelijke nog in gebruik zijnde systemen in Oman. De oorsprong van dit irrigatiesysteem dateert uit 500 na Christus, maar er zijn archeologische aanwijzingen dat irrigatiesystemen al in 2500 voor Christus bestonden in dit uiterst droge gebied. Met behulp van de zwaartekracht wordt water uit ondergrondse bronnen gekanaliseerd voor landbouw en huishoudelijk gebruik. Tal van wachttorens zijn gebouwd om de watersystemen in de gaten te houden. Het Aflaj systeem is een uitzonderlijk mooi bewaard gebleven vorm van landgebruik, die tegenwoordig wordt bedreigd door een dalende grondwaterspiegel.

Source: unesco.nl

Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman (Oman) © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Aflaj Irrigation System of Oman is a serial property, with five individual component parts - Falaj Al Jeela, Falaj Muyasser, Falaj Daris, Falaj Malki and Falaj Khatmein. All of which are located in the north of Oman. Four cluster around the Al Jabal Al Akhdar mountain range, and the fifth is located in the Sharqi range. Together they represent more than 3,000 still functioning aflaj in Oman.

Hydrologically, the Aflaj are integrated systems which collect water (groundwater, natural spring water or surface water), and deliver it through channels (underground or surface) for domestic and agricultural purposes. They can be broadly divided into three types of hydrological systems reflecting their type of water-source - Aini, Daoudi and Ghaili.

The Aflaj contribute to a collection of cultural landscapes, that illustrate the evolution of human societies and settlements over time, within the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment, and of successive social, economic and cultural forces. These irrigation systems are components of interrelated and interdependent landscapes that developed as a result of water availability. The settlements and agricultural areas also represent traditional land uses which rely on water systems. This led to the advancement of traditional management structures and practices to manage the water supply. These systems were vital to the existence of the communities they supplied, but also required ongoing maintenance and investment from the communities.

Settlements could only be established in these locations because of the availability of water which is crucial as the local conditions are generally considered as   harsh, with little rainfall. Management of the water sources enabled the conversion of land to agricultural use (almost entirely dependent on irrigation), which in turn made permanent habitation possible. Settlement patterns were also largely driven by the demands and needs of agriculture, with watchtowers and forts located in defensive positions near or overlooking the sharia (distribution point) and falaj channels. Additionally, houses, tools and handicrafts are built from materials found on agricultural land.

The variety in the nature and size of the aflaj landscapes contained within the World Heritage property means that a wide range of building types and settlement patterns evolved to meet the diverse needs of the inhabitants. These included forts, fortified palaces, watchtowers, large multiple occupation houses, enclosed walled settlements, small individual family houses near agricultural plots, and temporary dwellings for use during the date harvest.

Falaj Al Jeela is an excellent example of a traditional falaj cultural landscape that continues to function today. Falaj Muyasser has highly authentic agricultural areas. It has the best-preserved traditional management practices of all the sites. It also makes a unique contribution to the range of building types within the property, with a particularly fine series of Beits. Falaj Daris has the largest range of building types and features of all property components. It is also an outstanding example of a cultural landscape that is millennia old, still in use today. Falaj Malki's landscape contains building types not found at any other site in the property. It is an outstanding example of a cultural landscape that is millennia old, still functioning to this day. Falaj Khatmein is an outstanding example of a coherent and inter-related cultural landscape and, with Falaj Al Jeela, it is the most intact, still functioning aflaj landscape. Specifically at this component, the falaj water is used for civic as well as agricultural purposes. The Falaj provides examples of building types and patterns that cannot be found elsewhere in the property.

The property demonstrates exceptionally inventive techniques of sustainable land use within a challenging natural environment. Without benefit of modern tools and equipment, the individual falaj systems carried water over many kilometres powered by gravity alone. Careful design overcame natural barriers - aqueducts and siphons transferred water across wadi beds and maintained water pressure, while falaj channels were carved into mountain sides. Settlement formation was adapted to meet natural constraints; when good agricultural land was scarce, settlements were located on mountain slopes and hill sides.

The aflaj in Oman are millennia old, but still play an active role in contemporary society, representing an outstanding example of a living, working landscape.  Despite the significant economic and technological developments that have taken place over the last 30 years, the water from the thousands of aflaj across the country still provides 30-50% of all the water used in Oman today.

This property is an exceptional example of community cooperation and traditional management practices, many still being used to manage the aflaj today. Water is divided among the local community on a time-share basis, encouraging collective interest in maintaining overall water levels. The time share is monitored at the community's sundial, then individual farms access the water at the appropriate time by a system of sluices. Variances in water levels are managed by increasing or reducing the size of the irrigated land as required, while a proportion of water and land is permanently set aside for the falaj itself, to raise funds for day-to-day management and maintenance.

Criterion (v): The collection of Aflaj irrigation systems represents some 3,000 still functioning systems in Oman. Ancient engineering technologies demonstrate long standing, sustainable use of water resources for the cultivation of palms and other produce in extremely arid desert lands. Such systems reflect the former total dependence of communities on this irrigation and a time-honoured, fair and effective management and sharing of water resources, underpinned by mutual dependence and communal values.

Integrity

The components of the property contain the key elements of the aflaj cultural landscapes (irrigation channels, agricultural land, settlement areas and traditional management practices), and the inter-relationships between them can be clearly seen, but to differing degrees at each individual site. The inscribed property reflects the integrity of the whole aflaj system.

Many agricultural and traditional settlement areas do survive, and are almost entirely free from modern interventions. Date palms continue to dominate the agricultural areas, and extant historic buildings generally retain their original building material.

There is also good continuity of use and function across the property, illustrative of it being a living, working cultural landscape. Across all sites, the key falaj channels continue to distribute water to irrigate agricultural land. The falaj system also continues to depend on traditional techniques and management practices - gravity continues to be the main engine driving falaj flow, some aqueducts and siphons continue to be used to transport water, water continues to be divided based on time share, and sluices continue to be used to allocate water to a particular farm at the appointed time.

While the water systems are maintained in good order, there are issues around the continued use and maintenance of many of the traditional buildings in these landscapes.  New development can compromise the setting of the Aflaj as well as increasing demand for water excessively, while palm plantations have sometimes been replaced by new houses.  Road construction across or alongside channels can be damaging.

Authenticity

The basic layout of the nominated aflaj is wholly authentic. There are some modern interventions such as the use of concrete for lining shafts, and cement for reinforcing the tops of the mother wells and access shafts, at some of the shari’a, and in the distribution channels to individual agricultural plots, and new building around the settlements. But the authenticity can be seen in the underground channels which still consist of old traditional materials. The authenticity of the management of the aflaj is incontrovertible. The traditional system of ownership and management functions efficiently and is complemented by the administrative, technical and financial support from the government The Aflaj provide examples of some of the old techniques of sustainable land use which still continues to this day. The agriculture system still functions using traditional methods. A wide range of old building settlements are constructed of traditional materials.

Protection and management requirements

The property is fully protected by legislation. In 2017 the law of organizing & protection of Aflaj (WHS) was issued by Royal decree No. (39/2017). Additional protection for the water system by the Water Protection Law was promulgated by Royal Decree No. 29/2000. The Royal Decree No. (39/2017) protects the entire Aflaj system, including the channels above and below ground from their source areas to the distribution of the water in the fields, the environment around the channels, the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value, buffer zone, the historic buildings, monuments, traditional practices and agricultural land within the property.

Other laws related to the stakeholders are: the environment around the channels is protected by the Law on protection of sources of potable water from pollution issued by royal Decree No. 115/2001. The historic buildings settlements are protected by the Law of Heritage Protection issued by the Decree No. 6/80. The agriculture is protected by the Law of Agriculture System issued by the Decree No. 48/2006. However, the traditional handicrafts in the Aflaj society are encourage and protected by the Public Authority for Handicrafts Industry which was established in 2003 by the Royal Decree No.35/2003.

The Management plan for The Aflaj was finished in 2009. A topographical survey was made for the five sites and the boundary of each site was exactly defined. The Masterplan for visitor centre and interpretation system have been executed. A specialist Section for the World Heritage property within the Department of the Aflaj was created in 2007. Traditional management systems are still strong and an important factor in the property’s successful management.

top