Source of Life: Water Management in the Premodern Middle East

Water is the single most important requirement in sustaining large cities and complex societies. Harsh climatological conditions make water provision the greatest challenge Middle Eastern societies face, today and in the past. Yet, in the premodern era, highly populated cities in the Middle East—which dwarfed their European counterparts—succeeded in providing water to their inhabitants. This raises the crucial question: How did urban communities organize this vital service? The Source of Life project combines historical and archaeological evidence to explore the interrelationship between water installations, governance, and legal and cultural frameworks within five Middle Eastern cities from the first Arab conquests to Ottoman rule (the 7th-15th centuries).

Related project

Dr Peter Brown is working together with Iraqi colleague Dr Jaafar Jotheri and Dr Louise Rayne to try and date the ridges of a massive irrigation system surrounding the former site of the city of Basra, Southern Iraq.



The group regularly hosts, and contributes, to workshops, round table discussions and conferences. For an overview of these activities, please click the link below.