Four thousand years old Structures in Shushtar
The city of watermills, the masterpiece of ancient engineering Shooshtar mills and cascades are the most unique examples used for optimal water use in ancient times. The site is a collection of the dam, tunnels, subways, and watermills, which is an industrial-economic complex and is part of the large complex of Shushtar's water structures, which has been repeatedly mentioned in history books.
Shushtar, Historical Hydraulic System, inscribed as a masterpiece of creative genius, can be traced back to Darius the Great in the 5th century B.C. It involved the creation of two main diversion canals on the river Kârun one of which, Gargar canal, is still in use providing water to the city of Shushtar via a series of tunnels that supply water to mills. It forms a spectacular cliff from which water cascades into a downstream basin. It then enters the plain situated south of the city where it has enabled the planting of orchids and farming over an area of 40,000 ha. known as Mianâb (Paradise).
The property has an ensemble of remarkable sites including the Salasel Castel, the operation center of the entire hydraulic system, the tower where the water level is measured, damns, bridges, basins, and mills. It bears witness to the know-how of the Elamites and Mesopotamians as well as more recent Nabatean expertise and Roman building influence. Brief Synthesis The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System demonstrates outstanding universal value as in its present form, it dates from the 3rd century CE, probably on older bases from the sth century BCE. It is complete, with numerous functions, and large-scale, making it exceptional. The Shushtar system is a homogeneous hydraulic system, designed globally and completed in the 3rd century CE. It is as rich in its diversity of civil engineering structures and its constructions as in the diversity of its uses (urban water supply, mills, irrigation, river transport, and defensive system). The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System testifies to the heritage and the synthesis of earlier Elamite and Mesopotamian knowhow; it was probably influenced by the Petra dam and tunnel and by Roman civil engineering. The Shushtar hydraulic system, in its ensemble and most particularly the Shadorvân Grand Weir (bridge-dam), has been considered a Wonder of the World not only by the Persians but also by the Arab-Muslims at the peak of their civilization. The Gargar canal is a veritable artificial watercourse, which made possible the construction of a new town and the irrigation of vast plain, at the time semi-desert. The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System sits in an urban and rural landscape specific to the expression of its value. The Shushtar Hydraulic System is a testimony to the remarkably accomplished and early overall vision of the possibilities afforded by diversion canals and large weir-dams for land development. It was designed and completed in the 3rd century CE for sustainable operation and is still in use today. It is a unique and exceptional ensemble in terms of its technical diversity and its completeness that testifies to human creative genius.
The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is a synthesis of diverse techniques brought together to form a remarkably complete and large-scale ensemble. It has benefited from the ancient expertise of the Elamites and Mesopotamians in canal irrigation, and then that of the Nabateans; Roman technicians also influenced its construction. Its many visitors marveled at it and were in turn inspired. It testifies to the exchange of considerable influences in hydraulic engineering and its application throughout antiquity and the Islamic period under the various Iranian dynasties. Shushtar is a unique and exceptionally complete example of hydraulic techniques developed during ancient times to aid the occupation of semi-desert lands. By diverting a river flowing down the mountains, using large-scale civil engineering structures and the creation of canals, it made possible multiple uses for the water across a vast territory: urban water supply, agricultural irrigation, fish farming, mills, transport, defense system, etc. It testifies to a technical culture dating back eighteen centuries serving the sustainable development of human society, in harmony with its natural and urban environment. Integrity and Authenticity
The integrity of the hydraulic footprint is good, but its functional integrity compared with the original model is only partial and reduced, notably for the dams; it remains good for irrigation and water supply. The authenticity of elements reduced to archaeological remains is certain but has been affected by 20th-century works and materials as far as the civil structures and sites still in use are concerned. Efforts directed to the restoration of attributes that demonstrate authenticity must be pursued. Management and protection requirements The components of the management plan are satisfactory, but they need to be improved in terms of the interpretation of the sites and the involvement of the local population.
The following are the remarkable structures that you can enjoy visiting:
Great Shadorvan Dam or Caesar Dam
Dating back to the Sassanid period, it was the central structure of Shushtar's historic hydraulic system with 44 valves. Only 37 of these valves have remained intact to date. It is around 500 m long and around 50% has been reconstructed and restored. It is the first combined bridge dam structure in Iran.
At the beginning of 260 AD, Shapur I, the second king of the Sassanid empire, won a great victory against the Romans. He arrested Valerian I, the Roman emperor, and captured the Roman soldiers. Shapur made use of the Romans in the way of construction and prosperity of Shushtar, and in particular of the construction of this weir. This is why it is also called Caesar weir.
It was the operational center of the complex composed of large and numerous construction sites, barracks, stables, public baths, watchtowers, gardens, armory, timpani rooms, harem, kitchen, large swimming pools, fortifications, and ditch. It was a defensive center as well as a control center for the Daryun Canal, another artificial stream which is a sub-branch of Shatit.
Today, the castle is mainly destroyed, and there are only underground rooms and Daryun tunnels. According to historical resources, it dates back to the Achaemenid period. The Daryun Canal was dug during the reign of Darius the Great in order to water the plain of Mianab in Shushtar.
Attributed to Shapur I, it divides Karun into two branches, Shatit and Gargar, in some reports. The water treatment technique used in this weir makes it an architectural masterpiece from ancient times in Iran. This means, while dividing Karun, if the amount of water in each of these two channels will exceed a certain limit, the weir will transfer the additional amount of water to the other channel.
Mahi Bazan Weir
It also dates back to the Sassanid period and was made up of an integrated bedrock. The manipulation of the bedrock and the construction of three walls in the middle were carried out in order to increase the water pressure and maintain the water level.
Lashkar Dam Bridge
It is located next to one of the six historic doors of Shushtar called Lashkar. Today, you can only see the remains of this door. This combined structure dates back to the Sassanid period, but during its restoration in 2009, two Parthian tombs were discovered near the base of this bridge. The canal passing under the bridge is a sub-branch of Daryun. It pours into Gargar and is called Raghat.
This Sassanid structure transfers water from the Daryun canal to the Raghat channel. It was particularly useful during the overflow of Daryun, when the flood posed a threat to the plain of Mianab.
It was built on the Raghat Canal in an east-west direction during the Sassanid era. On the south side, it leads to part of the fortification of the city.
Borj-e Ayar Weir
It was located on the course of the Gargar Canal, downstream from the waterfalls, during the Sassanid period.
Shah Ali Dam Bridge
It was built on the Daryun Canal and dates back to the Safavid period.
The remains of an octagonal tower along the Shatit canal. It was built on a hill overlooking the Mizan dam. It is a kind of watchtower dating from the Qajar period.
All water mills and waterfalls
It consists of 32 water mills and many eye-catching waterfalls, all dating from the Sassanid period.
The old handmade staircase
With more than 200 steps, it is located south of the waterfall area, connecting them to the residential areas overlooking the complex. The staircase carries some inscriptions which testify to its history.
The ancient water treatment techniques used in Shushtar's historic hydraulic system are something unique that you can hardly find anywhere else. It attracts as many visitors and archaeologists from around the world to the region. You can also be one of those visitors appreciating and admiring this masterpiece of civil engineering.
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