Literary Reading: Fatimid Monument – Aqueduct in Kairouan, Tunisia; Patron Imam al-Mu'izz

Fatimid Aqueduct

Fatimid Aqueduct Fatimid Aqueduct Fatimid Aqueduct


Name of Monument:
Fatimid Aqueduct

Location:
Haffouz, Kairouan, Tunisia

Date of the monument:
Hegira 348 / AD 960

Period/Dynasty:
Fatimid

Patron(s):
The Fatimid Caliph Al-Mu‘izz li-Din Allah

Description:
The underground water collection system at Bir al-Udhine, 36 km to the west of Kaiouran, is held to be one of the most important monuments in Tunisia. Conscious of the need to supply water to his capital and his palaces, al-Mu’izz built an aqueduct straddling hills and ravines which brought water not only to Sabra but as far as the Aghlabid reservoirs. In this substantial work of engineering the builders probably used existing Roman and Aghlabid ruins. The different systems, comprising sourcing, ducting, collection, storage and distribution, are still visible. The most majestic part of these works is the 70 m-long aqueduct spanning the Musa wadi (dry river course). Consisting mostly of a blank wall, it becomes a bridge with four semi-circular arches down at the level of the river bed. This bridge measures 38 m long by 10 m high. Two superposed ducts carry the water. One dates from the Fatimid period and the other, harder to define, is possibly Aghlabid. There is nothing in this construction which suggests Roman architectural norms. Its origin is undoubtedly Muslim. However, the cut stone seems to have come from a Roman monument, which suggests that there was probably an ancient aqueduct at the site. The foundations and some of the debris are likely to have been used by the Fatimid builders. This edifice became a model for other similar North African works, mainly in Morocco.

How monument was dated:
A hagiographic text from  al-Nu’man dwells on problems relating to the construction of the ducting. Another text from the geographer al-Muqaddasi (died end of the 4th / 10th century) corroborates al-Nu’man’s text.

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Credits:

In the coming days, Simerg will be bringing to its readers a vast array of images and descriptions of Fatimid Objects and Monuments  from the database of Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) .

The MWNF is an organisation whose ground-breaking and visionary programme aims to establish a vast trans-national museum that presents works of art, architecture and archaeology in the context in which they were created. Inspired by the principle of organising exhibitions without moving the works of art, MWNF is creating through modern technology an exciting new dimension to museums. The visitor is invited to experience a museum not only as a place to admire artefacts on display but also as a gateway to related works of art in other museums, relevant archaeological sites and monuments as well as to thematic visits.

The ever expanding MWNF network includes partners from 19 countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. To date, public and private bodies from Algeria, Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom have joined the MWNF programme.

We thank MWNF for giving us the permission to reproduce images and descriptions in this website, and invite readers to visit the state of the art MWNF website at http://museumwnf.org/ for more details about the objects that are shown here as well as to view other Islamic artefacts.

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