AQUEDUCTS, CANALS, QANATS:
CONSTRUCTION AND MANAGEMENT OF WATER CONDUITS
IN THE LATE ANTIQUE AND MEDIEVAL MEDITERRANEAN AND MIDDLE EAST
This workshop will explore topics connected to the hydraulic infrastructure and its management that allowed water to be transported to, and distributed within, cities in the medieval world (c. 600–1500 CE). Many medieval cities depended on the transportation of water across long distances, requiring the construction of significant infrastructure—or, in some cases, the maintenance and extension of pre-existing structures from earlier periods—to supply urban populations. Conduits of various varieties—such as canals, qanats and aqueducts—were huge investments in terms of labour and financial resources and their construction, through sometimes difficult and unforgiving landscapes, often presented considerable engineering challenges that had to be overcome. Once built, these structures required frequent maintenance to remain effective and the distribution of water had to be actively managed to ensure an equitable supply of water regularly reached urban users. Rulers often took a personal interest in the construction, extension or repair of these conduit systems while local authorities and other institutions played key roles in their management and regulation. The material evidence for many of these conduits is well preserved and its analysis often illuminates how, when and why these structures were built as well as episodes of maintenance, repair and abandonment. Textual evidence, on the other hand, provides an equally valuable strand of evidence which often contains more ephemeral details relating to their management, the social obligations that related to their upkeep and the users that depended on the water they conveyed.
In this workshop, we aim to gain an insight into these processes—construction and upkeep, management, (dis)repair, etc.—as well as the relationships between the many people and groups involved in these processes and/or who made use of the water transported and distributed via these conduits. Therefore, contributions explore various aspects of conduit systems that brought water to, and distributed water within, medieval cities—e.g. their construction, repair, management, materiality, symbolism or abandonment. Our focus is the medieval Middle East but contributions also consider evidence from neighbouring cultural and geographic zones (including, but not limited to, the Byzantine Empire, Al-Andalus and Central Asia) as well as earlier periods (such as the Roman and Sasanian empires).
The preliminary programme can be download here.
We would be delighted if colleagues could join us in person, but there will also be a live zoom link to follow discussions online.
To register please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating IN-PERSON or ONLINE attendance, specifying which days you will attend.
The zoom link will be send to registered participants on the eve of the conference.