On the Margins: Enduring Pre-Modern Water Management Strategies In and Around the Registan Desert, Afghanistan

David C. Thomas, Fiona J. Kidd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Registan Desert in southern Afghanistan has, like most deserts, traditionally been regarded as a barren, hostile space, devoid of human occupation other than occasional nomad campsites and an isolated 11th-century a.d. fortress. Detailed analysis of a strip of high resolution satellite imagery available through Google Earth and stretching into the Registan has revealed the presence of over 800 hitherto unrecorded archaeological sites. Many of these sites relate to water management, and predate the modern era. The water installations form networks of sites which facilitated the opportunistic exploitation of grazing following periodic rains, desert farming, travel, trade and exchange over hundreds of years, if not longer. Extrapolating from this detailed analysis, we argue that thousands of other sites have yet to be discovered in the Registan. These water management networks warrant further study in the field and protection from neglect, construction, recreational four-wheel driving, and looting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-42
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

Keywords

  • Afghanistan
  • Google Earth
  • Registan
  • pastoral nomads
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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