Please join the Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World for a lecture by Dr. Mehrnoush Soroush of Harvard University as part of the 2018-2019 Lecture Series.
The Lords of Canals and Bridges: Re-Examining the Sasanian Hydraulic Landscapes and Their Heritage in the Islamic Period
Sasanian kings are known as builders of impressive hydraulic projects such as the monumental canal of Nahrawan (in southern Iraq), and the Shadorwan bridge of Shushtar (in southwestern Iran). Sasanian hydraulic landscapes have had a profound impact on anthropological discourse of empires and water management, as they linked large and complex water infrastructures to a highly centralized state system. The evidence for court engineering is found in the linearity of Sasanian canals and the monumentality of their bridges and weirs. It is commonly believed that the monumental Sasanian waterworks fell into decline in the sixth and sevenths centuries because of the decline of the state power and its eventual demise in the wake of the Islamic conquest. This recent multidisciplinary study of the hydraulic infrastructures of Sasanian cities highlights the longue durée of Sasanian water management in southwestern Iran and stresses both the connection of Sasanian waterworks to prior investments and the evidence for continuous investment in Sasanian hydraulic landscapes in the Islamic period.
About the Speaker
Mehrnoush Soroush is an archaeologist and historian of ancient water infrastructures. She holds a Ph.D. from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) at New York University, and is currently a Visiting Fellow in the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University. Her research integrates digital technologies, fieldwork, and textual sources in order to investigate the history and intersection of water management and urbanism in the Iranian World. She is primarily interested in examining how water technologies enabled the formation and maintenance of a burgeoning network of Iranian cities in arid and semi-arid regions that relied on market-oriented irrigation agriculture and water intensive industries.
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