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Roman- and Byzantine-era Cisterns of the Past Reviving Life in the Present

All photos and text by Brad Lancaster, © 2011 This is number six in a series of Drops in a Bucket Blog posts on Brad Lancaster’s water wanderings in the Middle East; this trip led in part to Volume 1 of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond being translated into Arabic, and Brad’s participation in the upcoming International Permaculture Convergence in Jordan this September. NOTE: If traveling to the Middle East, check out this blog series for dynamic projects and sites to check out. In northern Jordan during the summer of 2009, I was on a mission to document a modern-day Roman-era cistern resurgence. I met with Engineer and Permaculture Project Manager Sameeh Al-Nuimat at the Care International office outside Amman. He was great. He has rural hardworking roots, loves native plants and traditional ways, is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about whole-system design, and decided we’d begin the day by having an Arabic breakfast with everyone in the office. We all grouped around a very small, low table piled high with hummus, pita, olives, falafel etc, and ate with our hands. What a wonderful way to bring everyone together as the day begins! The Village of Rainwater Tea We then made for the water. In the village of Bayudah Al Shrquia there is a long tradition of rainwater harvesting. Roman- and Byzantine-era cisterns abound in both ruin and reuse, with the limestone hills peppered with underground tanks dug into the rock. Many of these tanks have been in continual use since their creation over a thousand years ago, while others have been newly refurbished, funded in part by revolving community loan funds often facilitated by Care International. The cisterns are olla-shaped, and often built below a limestone catchment. A depressed sediment trap just in front of the cistern’s water entrance is usually the only filtration. A boulder with a trap door is put atop the cistern opening so no one falls in. Steel door atop ancient cistern access portalTo read on and see more photos, follow this link to my Drops In A Bucket Blog on my website. You’ll be able to follow me down into an underground cistern, learn more about ancient water-harvesting systems, and drink a virtual glass of mint rainwater tea with me….

Brad Lancaster is a dynamic teacher, consultant, and designer of regenerative systems. He is the author of the award-winning, best-selling books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, the information-packed website, and the Drops in a Bucket Blog. He lives his talk on an oasis-like eighth of an acre in downtown Tucson, Arizona, by harvesting over 100,000 gallons of rainwater a year where just 12 inches per year falls from the sky.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Wins 2013 Literary Awards

This year’s release of the updated, expanded Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition has won two literary awards: * Best Indie Books of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews in the Nonfiction category * 2013 USA Best Book Award in the General Home category More awards could be on the horizon in 2014. […] Read More..

American Oasis: A Multimedia Work on the Story of Water in Tucson, featuring Brad Lancaster

“It never snows in Tucson. It doesn’t even rain much – about 11 inches a year – so precipitation of any kind makes Tucsonans a little giddy. But the light in [Brad] Lancaster’s eyes is different. He sees water falling from the sky as the key to his city’s future; nothing less than its salvation. […] Read More..

Finally released: the long-awaited, expanded, and revised second edition of Volume 1 of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond!

Turn water scarcity into water abundance, while maximizing the power of the sun and more! This best-selling, award-winning guide shows you how to conceptualize, design, and implement life-enhancing water-, sun-, wind-, and shade-harvesting systems for your home, landscape, and community. The book enables you to assess your on-site resources, gives you a diverse array of […] Read More..

Watershed Maps Are Community Maps

by Brad Lancaster © 2011 A watershed is “that area of land, a bounded hydrological system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.” — John Wesley Powell Political boundaries are arbitrary. Watershed boundaries […] Read More..

Images of Contemporary Water-Harvesting Art

by Brad Lancaster © 2011 Show the flow. Cycle it. Celebrate it. Know it. And as you do, show others the way. The three images below are installations that I feel show and celebrate the flow. Their beauty lures me in, and invites me to look deeper. See more images in the Contemporary Water-Harvesting […] Read More..