A3 – Other classic-era civilizations

© Bob Denton, 2016
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Nabateans

The Nabateans lived between the Euphrates and the Red Sea and as far north as the Dead Sea, between 37 and 100 CE and proved to be capable water managers. In part their success was based on their development of a waterproof cement.

They controlled an important area for traders who travelled along a network of oases, bringing news of others’ developments with them. They were nomadic warriors who traded in frankincense, myrrh and spices, they traded bitumen from the Dead Sea with Egyptians.

Petra’s Al Khazneh – with camel
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Petra (aka Raqmu) in today’s Jordan was founded by them as their capital. Petra had a perennial stream supplying it with water.  It was however subject to flash floods and there is evidence of the Nabateans using dams, conduits and cisterns to contain their impact.

Petra water channel
Image source: www.nabataea.net/waterw.html
Petra cistern
Image source: www.nabataea.net/waterw.html
Petra pipework
Image source: www.nabataea.net/waterw.html

Elsewhere in their territory Nabateans developed a network of bottle-shaped cisterns that were concealed from others beneath the ground. Their arch-like strips would mean outsiders could cross them unaware.

Nabateans didn’t conventionally collect water for irrigation. Instead they developed a technique that contoured the land around a tree so that it funnelled water down towards it, the ground around it was broken up to absorb the water more thoroughly. The water content of the soil would be sealed in once the rain stopped and held beneath its surface. This and the terracing retained a high percentage of any precipitation.

Nabatean channel leading water to a cistern
Image source: www.nabataea.net/water.html

This cistern close to Humeima shows the slots cut for the roof to be constructed above it:

Nabataean cistern in Humeima/Auara Jordan 
Image source: www.romanaqueducts.info
Nabatean cistern
Image source: www.nabataea.net/water.html
Nabatean cistern, cut from rock and plastered with waterproof cement – then covered  
Image source: www.nabataea.net/water.html

Nabateans also created aqueducts using brick/tile like channels that could would often have a stone top placed on top of them

Aqueduct stone from Humeima
Image source: www.nabataea.net/humeima.html

Forward to Other: Turkey

© Bob Denton, 2016
Forward to B – Middle Ages   –  Advance to DD and D
Back to Unpublished writing