Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


10 April 2011

Water Management in Prehistoric Crete: The case of Choiromandres, Zakros

Situated at the easternmost part of Crete, the small valley of Choiromandres forms the southeast end of the fertile depression of Zakros. The eastern part of the valley takes the form of a rocky ravine with a steep gradient. In winter, rainwater flows down the mountainous terrain, forming a raging torrent that runs along the slope, causing soil erosion on either side, often with devastating consequences.

During the Minoan period, the locals attempted to regulate the rainwater flow by means of a hydraulic land reclamation system, aimed at protecting arable land from the rush of water, while improving agricultural performance by using rainwater to moisten the surface soil.

The case study of Choiromandres describes an integrated management system over an area of ~7,5 hectares that ensured water for irrigation, protected soil from erosion, and to a certain degree protected the areas downstream from floods. The significance of this case lies within the fact that all these constructions and systems took place during the Minoan times, that means 4.000 years far from the present.


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