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History of Irrigation- Part 1.docx

Agricultural Studies
Course Code
AGST 1000
Henning Bjourlund

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History of Irrigation
Part 1
Hydraulic Societies
- Major Irrigation Societies
o Agriculture the basic of Cultivation Irrigation
- Irrigation systems
o Surface water diversions
o Groundwater mobilization systems
- Diffusion of irrigation systems
Population pressure forces cereal production into the dry plains
- Settled agriculture started around 10,000 years ago in areas with sufficient
- Increasing population forces cereal production into ‘The plains’ around
- Needed to adapt to new conditions
- Mediterranean climate regime of wet winters and dry summers
- The seasonal contrast is especially marked in the lowlands
- Remedy simple-dig ditches to divert water from the river during dry periods
and prevent flooding during harvest
- And the practice of ‘irrigation’ emerged
- This profoundly changed the sue of land
- They could grow two crops a year but it required both drainage and
- Land not subject opt spring flooding could now also be turned into
productive fields
Mesopotamia: Canals on the Plain
- Early watercourses and settlements in the Diyaya region. The system shown
in grey was in use during the Early Dynastic period about 3,000-2,400 BC
- Sites and watercourses slight displaces so that the earlier pattern will remain
visible, were occupied during the Old Babylonian period, about 1,800-1,700
How it works
- The canals opened up opportunities for settlement and irrigation
- Settlement and settlement/reservoirs would be built
Declining output
- Evidence of a shift to dryer climate over a 300 year period from about BC
- Caused further migration south from rain fed areas
- Irrigation brought with it
o A continued threat of soil degradation and
o Insufficient irrigation because of shortage of water promotes

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o Caused change in production from wheat to more salt resistant barely
and decline in yields
Transport of crops on the canals
- Soil became more clay-rich and fine grained away from the levee crests
- Additionally, the flood basins water logging led to salinization
- However, the creation of these canals provided ideal ways for the
transportation of crops
- Any shortfall in production were alleviated b means of transport by boat as
long as other settlements were providing a sufficient surplus
- Silting is the filing up or raising of the bed of a body of water by depositing
- In Mesoplatamia, silt built up quickly in the canals threatening to choke them
from a water supply. This could be overcome by dredging but labor was
constantly needed.
Salt and Silt in Ancient Mesopotamian agriculture
- Around 3500 BC it appears that as much wheat as barely was grown in
Southern Iraq
- By 2500 BC wheat accounted for only one sixth of production
- By about 2100 BC it accounted for no more than 2% of crops
- By 1700 BC no wheat was grown at all, only barely which is more salt
- Soil fertility also declined dramatically- largely as a result of water logging
and salinity
o In 2400 BC avgas 2,537kg
o 2100 BC yield declined to 1,40kg
o 1700 BC, avg 897 kg per hectare
- The Nile
o Length 6,700 km
o Source
White Nile, Lake Victoria, Uganda
The Blue Nile: Lake Tan, Ethiopia
River Ataraba
o Civilizations
7000BC: evidence of first farming village
3100 BC The Old Kingdom under the Pharaos
Egypt’s Earliest Farming Village Found
- The crops and animals- and techniques for raising tem- were all introduced
to Egypt from the ancient Middle East, where domestication of plants and
animals are known to have existed as far back as 9000BC
- The 7000 year old farming village site includes evidence of domesticated
animals and crops
Water management under the Pharaohs 3,100 BC
- Small canals feeding from the Nile would connect into small flat-bottomed
basins and simple sluices in the dikes were used up to fill up and drain the
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