Qanāts and historical irrigated landscapes in Palermo’s suburban area (Sicily)

Giuseppe Bazan, Pietro Todaro, Angelo Castrorao Barba, Pietro Todaro

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The city of Palermo and its surrounding valley is an important historic irrigated landscape, characterized by underground hydraulic structures and by a long tradition of irrigation sys- tems inherited from the Islamic presence in Sicily throughout the Middle Ages (9th-11th century). The Islamic “green revolution” radically innovated the irrigation systems of Sicily and thus also lead to the introduction and diffusion of new irrigated crops. In Palermo’s sub- urban areas, 63 hydraulic infrastructure and drainage tunnel sites have been surveyed and classified into 4 hydraulic categories: 1) qanāts; 2) blind qanāts; 3) connected wells; 4) emerging drainage galleries. These structures, notwithstanding some doubts concerning their exact dating, seem to be typical of the Medieval period. The Norman Favara / Maredolce castle and park (12th century) is a particularly interesting case study in evalu- ating the role of Islamic heritage in Palermo valley water management and is an extraordi- nary example of how Islamic hydraulic engineering was used to demonstrate royal power. Keywords: historical water systems, hydrogeology, historical landscape ecology, Islamic archaeology, medieval Sicily
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-370
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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