Major Engineering Events in History: Irrigation by the Qanats in Iraq 1000 B.C.

About the major engineering events in history, the irrigation of Iraq by Qanats in 1000 B.C.

Great Engineering Feats from Early Times to the Present

1000 B.C. (The Qanats of Iran). Three thousand years ago the ancient Persians learned how to bring water to dry valleys by using an ingenious system of underground channels--called qanats--that is still being used in modern Iran. In fact, these qanats provide 75% of the water used there today. These underground aqueducts are still handdug by Muqanni who sink vertical shafts to subsurface water-bearing aquifers sometimes 1,000' deep. Precisely aligned horizontal shafts, which serve as aqueducts, connect the vertical shafts to a mouth which opens into a canal for irrigation or transportation of future drinking water. Several vertical shafts are sunk along the line to provide ventilation and a means to raise excavation materials. Dirt is piled around the entrance of each shaft to act as a retainer to prevent potentially eroding rainwater from cascading into the system, and thus destroying it. From the air, the dirt around each hole looks like a giant anthill. There are 22,000 qanat units in Iran, comprising more than 170,000 mi. of underground channels.

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