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In search of a lost hydraulic treasure in Iraqi Kurdistan: how to virtually study abandoned subterranean qanat systems

May 8, 2024 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm CDT

The Embassy Public House
1435 West Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60607 United States

AIA Society: Chicago

Talk by Dr. Mehrnoush Soroush (Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of Chicago)

Throughout the Middle Ages, thousands of miles of underground water management infrastructure, known as qanats, were built to sustain thriving societies despite the arid environments of the Middle East and Central Asia. There is enormous interest in the history and functioning of qanat systems in archaeology and cultural heritage management. Unfortunately, the majority of ancient qanats have dried out and their visible parts have been eradicated, leaving us with many unanswered questions, including their construction history, engineering techniques, technology transmission, and the impact of migrations and changing climate on their diffusion and demise. The premise of my research is that the loss of visible remains should not end our learning about these archaeological and heritage assets. While we can use Satellite imagery to map the path and surface remains of the qanats, our understanding of main parts of the system that are subterranean is limited as none of the current archaeological techniques can map features buried that deep under the ground. Through a grant from the Institute for the Formation of Knowledge, I have explored whether a relatively low-cost geophysics technology named tomography can be used to model the buried shafts and channels.

Mehrnoush Soroush is a landscape archaeologist who examines the intersection between urban and water history in the Ancient Near East. She received her Ph.D. from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) of New ­­­York University and her MA in Architecture from the University of Tehran, Iran. Mehrnoush’s research focuses on the resilience of ancient cities in adapting to environmental changes and socio-political developments by adopting new hydraulic strategies and technologies. She employs interdisciplinary approaches drawing on a broad set of data, including archaeological fieldwork, textual and archival research, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, and related computational methods.

* *The event is free and open to those who are 21 and over** Please register at eventbrite

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May 8, 2024
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm CDT
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Laura Gawlinski


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The Embassy Public House
1435 West Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60607 United States
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