Review of Ancient Wisdom of Qanat, and Suggestions for Future Water Management

  • Taghavi-Jeloudar, Mohsen (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Seoul National University) ;
  • Han, Mooyoung (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Seoul National University) ;
  • Davoudi, Mohammad (Department of River Management, Research Institute for Water Scarcity and Drought) ;
  • Kim, Mikyeong (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Seoul National University)
  • Received : 2012.11.08
  • Accepted : 2013.05.01
  • Published : 2013.06.28


Arid areas have a significant problem with water supply due to climate change and high water demand. More than 3,000 years ago, Persians started constructing elaborate tunnel systems called Qanat for extracting groundwater for agriculture and domestic usages in arid and semi-arid areas and dry deserts. In this paper, it has been demonstrated that ancient methods of water management, such as the Qanat system, could provide a good example of human wisdom to battle with water scarcity in a sustainable manner. The purpose of this paper is twofold: Review of old wisdom of Qanat-to review the history of this ancient wisdom from the beginning until now and study the Qanat condition at the present time and to explore why (notwithstanding that there are significant advantages to the Qanat system), it will no longer be used; and suggestions for future water management-to suggest a number of new methods based on new materials and technology to refine and protect Qanats. With these new suggestions it could be possible to refine and reclaim this method of extracting water in arid areas. Also, a new multi-purpose water management model has been introduced based on rainwater infiltration management over the Qanat system as the model can be applied either in dry or wet cities to solve current urban water problems.


Ancient wisdom;Arid area;Groundwater;Qanat;Water supply technology


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