Engineering in Arabic-Islamic Civilization
The Early Muslims
There are many Muslim dams in Spain, a large number of which were built during the tenth century AD, the golden age of Umayyad power in the peninsula. In this period, for example, many small dams, or azuds, were built on the 150-mile-long River Turia, which flows into the Mediterranean at Valencia. (In passing it is important to note the Spanish word azud, from Arabic al-sadd, one of many modern irrigation terms taken directly from Arabic and certain proof of Muslim influence on Spanish technology.) Eight of these dams are spread over six miles of river in Valencia, and serve the local irrigation system. Some of the canals carry water much further, particularly to the Valencian rice fields. These, of course, were established by the Muslims, and continue to be one of the most important rice-producing centres in Europe. Because of their safe design and method of construction, and because they were provided with deep and very firm foundations, the Turia dams have been able to survive the dangerous flood conditions for 1000 years.
The saqiya was widely used in the Muslim world from the earliest days onwards. It was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Muslims, where it was massively exploited. Its Maximum expansion in the Valencian Country took place throughout the eighteenth century. In 1921 their number amounted to 6000 installed in the Orchards of Valencia, which supplied water to 17866 hectares. Throughout the twentieth century they have been replaced by hydraulic pumps.
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