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Water management at the Qatraneh site, Jordan

The Qatraneh site strongly demonstrates the wisdom of our ancestors in terms of water harvesting. Though the water shortage situation was not as complicated as it is today, people in the past have always tried to cope with scarcity pressures. The various types of ponds found throughout Jordan justify this.

To this day we continue to learn not only from the collection of water, but also from the sophisticated manner of construction and the wise management system that indicate a deep traditional and scientific knowledge, which inspired the people of the time to establish such a unique web of water collection systems. Even if our ancestors lacked in technology, they had a good sense of how nature works and were therefore able to utilize natural forces such as natural water flow and gravity to set up their water systems. In the case of Qatraneh one can see how the natural flow of wadi Hanifa and gravity are used to bring water into the main pond after being purified through the precipitation pond, to end in the internal well of the castle. They managed to tailor natural forces to suit their lifestyle and fulfill their different political, economic, environmental and social needs.

The status of the Qatraneh site today

The site no longer plays a political, military, economic, social or security role as in the past. Its water system seems to be forgotten and the site is not listed in the Jordanian tourist map (2009). Tourist sites according to officials from the Ministry of Tourism are listed in the tourist map only if they are equipped with all facilities tourists need. Qatraneh attracts individual researchers and tourists interested in the natural elements of the site and those attracted to the fine details of its water collection system. 

The site is rather abandoned today. The water from the earth dam is not able to reach the dual canals and flow into the main pool. The site is not attended by any guard, leaving it to the mercy of irresponsible visitors. During the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, rumors circulated that gold, military salaries and ammunitions were stored in the castle. These rumors contributed to the compromise and partial deterioration of the site.

Water has been the key factor of the great civilizations that have flourished throughout history but has been equally responsible for the collapse of civilizations. A spot in the middle of the desert, with water and food, that was once a magnet for travelers (merchants, pilgrims, etc.) has ceased to attract people, one of the reasons being the lack of water.