Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman
Since 2006 • Cultural
The property includes five aflaj irrigation systems and is representative of some 3,000 such systems still in use in Oman. The origins of this system of irrigation may date back to AD 500, but archaeological evidence suggests that irrigation systems existed in this extremely arid area as early as 2500 BC. Using gravity, water is channelled from underground sources or springs to support agriculture and domestic use. The fair and effective management and sharing of water in villages and towns is still underpinned by mutual dependence and communal values and guided by astronomical observations. Numerous watchtowers built to defend the water systems form part of the site reflecting the historic dependence of communities on the aflaj system. Threatened by falling level of the underground water table, the aflaj represent an exceptionally well-preserved form of land use.
The histories of the five aflaj in the nomination are unknown, since no written records survive. By virtue of its size and complexity, and the importance of the town of Izki that it supplies, a case could be made for Falaj Al-Malki as being one of the earliest in Oman. There are similar indications that Falaj Daris, with its links to the town of Nizwa, could be considerable antiquity. The relationship of Falaj Al-Khatmeen to the Bait Al-Redadah fort, known to have been built during the Yaruba Imamates, suggests that this falaj originated in the 17th century.
It would be helpful if more information could be assembled from both technical and archival sources and excavations to allow clearer indication to emerge of the chronology of daoudi aflaj construction.