A Study of Qanάt and Gabarbands in Balochistan

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  The accumulation of recent findings from an archaeological standpoint observed from different parts of Balochistan necessitates a new overview of a prehistoric irrigation system of this region. It was assumed that 4,000 years ago the population of
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   Annual Research Journal Hankén, Vol. 8, 2016  1 A Study of    Qanάt and Gabarbands in Balochistan  Gul Hasan Baloch 1  Hamid Ali Baloch  2  Abdul Hameed Baloch  3   Abdullah Baloch  4  , Jamil Hussain  5   Abstract: The accumulation of recent findings from an archaeological standpoint observed from different parts of Balochistan necessitates a new overview of a prehistoric irrigation system of this region. It was assumed that 4,000 years ago the population of Balochistan was sparsely distributed and the catchments covered with lush green forests. However, agrarian settlements in different areas during the post and mature  Harappan periods exhibited a tremendous anthropogenic pressure on  fragile ecosystems that resulted in metamorphic changes in past climate of these regions. The presence of gabar-bands, intended for the control of flooding surface water, and constructing Qanãt, in different parts of  Balochistan are clear evidence of climatic changes from subtropical to semiarid desert. In this paper the prehistoric climate of Balochistan will be discussed in the light of gabar-bands and Qanãt. Similarly, the history of these ancient technologies will also be discussed. 1   Pro   -Vice Chancellor, LUAWMS, Uthal, Balochistan   2  Assistant Professor, Department of Balochi, UoB, Quetta 3   Faculty of Agriculture, LUAWMS, Uthal, Balochistan   4  Director, Directorate of Culture, Balochistan. 5  Assistant Director, Archaeology, Govt. of Balochistan     A Study of    Qanάt and Gabarbands in Balochistan   2 Key words:  Balochistan, prehistoric climate, gabar-bands, Qanãt. Introduction: With the emergence of agricultural system, fundamental changes occurred in social organization and cultural ecology in ancient societies, particularly the human perception of the landscape in which they inhibited (Fuller 2006). The archeological evidence of flora and fauna of an area as outlined by Childe (1936) should be regarded as food production, which indicated the evolving attitude of a society from ―hunter gatherer‖ to permanent settlement (sedentary). Therefore, water not only important for basic survival, but also helped in shaping the social structure of the primitive societies world. The availability of permanent sources of water flourished these primitive societies and turned them from a hunter gatherer society to well established agrarian societies. According to Childe (1953) the agricultural surplus enabled the Indus Valley Civilization into a ―single ―empire‖ among a number of smaller sites  —   provincial townships, fortified villages, and  possibly frontier posts and factories… That a ―ruler‖ dwelt in the citadels is clear, and the attachment thereto of the great granaries concretely expresses his economic power‖. The Indus Civilization and its peripheries including the scattered urban settlements in Balochistan derived their wealth from a combination of agriculture and trade; however, total dependence upon perennial sources of riparian water also exposed the vulnerabilities of these systems. For instance, the flow of these rivers is sensitive with frequent movement of sand dunes which are dominant around the banks of rivers. Working on the ruins of Mohenjódaro, Ernest J.H. Mackay (1948) accidently discovered the river sedimentations far away from the present flowing site River Indus and he concluded that Mohenjo-Daro might have been abandoned because of asunder of the Indus River. Hence the avulsion of the River Indus not only triggered the process of abandonment of Mohenjo-Daro at the turn of the third millennium but also transformed the Indus Civilization into different regional dominions such as Sindhi Domain, Kulli Domain etc. , (Possehl 1997). Once the importance of dynamic factor of the River Indus in the process of Indus Civilization were well established; new hypothesis that the waters of the River Indus were impounded by a  Gul Hasan Baloch  et al    3 natural dam across the river presented by Robert Raikes and G.F. Dales in their collective (Raikes and Dales 1977, Dales and Raikes 1968) and independent work (Raikes 1964, 1967 a,b; Dales 1965 a,b). However, critique to these findings Wasson (1987) observed that these little structural dams could not have withstood the pressure exhibited by water flow of the Indus River. Therefore, it is believed that forming of a large natural dam across the Indus, might be results of natural earthquakes occurred in the prehistoric periods (Possehl 1997). To review different paradigms on decline of the Indus Civilization is beyond the scope of this paper, the only point which we are raising is, the construction of dams and channeling the subterranean water sources for the irrigation purposes was not evident in any stages of (pre- mature and post) Harappan periods in the Indus Valley and surrounding areas of Balochistan. Therefore, these irrigation technologies were srcinated elsewhere in later periods and eventually imported into Balochistan and surrounding areas. The Pre-historic climate of Balochistan: Today, climatically, Balochistan is classified as an arid zone with the lowest rainfall 20-30 cm (average 22 cm) per annum. The precipitation in Balochistan is noticeably unpredictable and erratic. When Balochistan came under the indirect rule of British Empire they started recording the precipitation of this region and according to these data 1902 was the year with the lowest recorded precipitation (11 cm) and the lowest average precipitation for two consecutive years was 12 cm in 1901-1902. The highest recorded precipitation was 59 cm in 1890, and the highest average for two consecutive years was 47 cm in 1889-1890. Similarly the weather documentations for the past 100 years show that only 30% of the time the precipitation has been more than 25 cm and for 10 % of the time in excess of 35 cm. However, based on archeological findings it is generally suggest that there has been a considerable decrease in the rainfall of Balochistan since antiquity (Stein 1931). The assumption of lush green forests in prehistoric Balochistan due to mild climatic conditions is subjected to constant critical review in the light of recent findings.   A Study of    Qanάt and Gabarbands in Balochistan   4 The problem with the gradual inclination of weather pattern from wet to dry or arid climatic conditions in Balochistan is stability in distribution of prehistoric and present-day populations (Raikes, and Dyson 1961). Working on ruins of Killi Gul Mohammad (Quetta) Fairservis (1956) noticed that ―…sites occur almost everywhere in the valley where fertile soil and water exist today, indicating that climatic conditions and the ecology of the modern Quetta valley are comparable to those of prehistoric times.‖ The inhospitable climatic conditions from antiquity to modern time are the main driving force to obliterate the possibilities of permanent settlement of a large population in different parts of Balochistan. Therefore, Piggott (1950) concluded that the largest mound of the Quetta region was more or less a small village and average size of the Amri-Nal mounds did not exceed two acres. Although on the ruins of Nal area Piggott (1950) estimated 100 burials chambers which are possibly as suggested by Raikes, and Dyson (1961) ―represent a communal burial area serving more than one village. From these examples if we assume that in antiquity the way of life of inhabitants of Balochistan due to similarity in weather pattern was same with present-day inhabitants then the survival of ancient populations is entirely conditioned by the supply of water (Raikes, and Dyson 1961). Similarly the water as a limiting factor also supports a nomadic way of living and their living pattern similar to that of today. During reconnaissance surveys of the Bolan and Mula Pass areas De Cardi noted the similar seasonal migratory pattern. In summary, there is a paucity of scientific findings, due to which it is hard to conclude a clear picture on the ancient climatic condition of Balochistan. Qanάts  and Gabarbands:   From antiquity till modern time in Balochistan, water in the form of rain and snow are not sufficient for an extensive agricultural activities therefore, the local inhabitants of these regions invented some unique methods of irrigation system to inundate their crops. These are qanάts  and gabarbands . A qanάt   is defined as an underground channel created to connect an underground water source (aquifer) situated into the deeper layers of soil and brought it up to an agricultural land lower in the valley (English, 1968). This method requires a much higher  Gul Hasan Baloch  et al    5 level of technological attainment compared with canal irrigation system found in other provinces of Pakistan. Compared with the Iranian plateau, Balochistan is the home of relatively few qanάt   and it is believe that none of them were dug by Baloch people. The gabar-bands  considered to be storage dams or check dams (Stein 1931). Once floodwater passed through these stone built structures, silt to be deposited gradually upstream (Raikes, and Dyson 1961). The construction of qanάts  and gabar-bunds  required large quantities of manpower as well as engineering skill (Fig. 1). Etymology: The Persian, term Qanάt   used for underground canals. Qanάt (Ghanat) is in fact an old Semitic term and an cestor of word  xavva  (Greek), conna  (Latin) channel and canal. In Balochi, ― kahan ‖ is synonym of Qanάt  . In Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern China, Sinkiang, and Soviet Central Asia, the underground water channel system is known as kάréz  . In Yemen and Saudi Arabia it is known as sahzidg  and in the United Arab Emirates and Oman as  falej  (Lambton 1953). On the other hand, gabar-bands  or gaurbands  stone-faced walls or "dams" attributed to the gabar   or gaur   (the worshiper of fire, Zoroastrians, Old Persians,) intended for the control of surface water, and usually presumed to be prehistoric (Raikes, 1965). The history: The history always started with a myth which becomes a legend and legend becomes a part and parcel of history same happened with srcin of Qanάt  . According to  Ibn-i-Faqih , the 10 th  century Iranian historian, that one of the Kings of Iran arrested a group of scholars and philosophers and ordered their imprisonment in Kerman. At the prison there was no surface water but there was water fifty meters underground. Realizing the hardship of prison, these philosopher and scholars invented qanats  and brought water to the surface and so eventually converted barren areas of Kerman into a lush green forest. They taught this principle to the people (Beaumont, et al.,  1989). It is believed that the srcin of Qanάt   techniques took place in the old kingdom of Urartu around late Urumiyya in north-western Persia. A Qanάt   was built by Assyrian king Sennacherib
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