Hama in Syria is famous for these water wheels, initially built by the Romans in what must be one of the most impressive engineering feats ever seen in a while. The current turns the wheels which contain small buckets which fill up with water and then spill out over to the aqueduct to its side... basically how to pump water from the river without using a pump. Apparently the wheels are all a-spin in the summer when there's more water.
Norias were first developed in the Byzantine Era which is around the 13th century when they used to supply the town with water. The water wheels are 20m in diameter and the can be as tall as a five storey building. At one time there were more than 30 Noria wheels during the medieval times. Because the walls of the Orontes River were too deep for water to be sourced directly from the river, the wooden wheels were designed and constructed as part of an irrigation system for the fields in Hama. In their heyday, the main purpose of the Hama water wheels were for them to raise water from the Orontes
Did you Know?
From the initial 30 Norias currently only 17 have survived. There are still in good working conditions although most of them are over 500 years old. Each wheel is given a certain name and the biggest one is known as Al-Mohammediyah which used to give the great mosque it’s water supply.
How do they work
The norias were powered by the river’s powerful currents, which made the wheels turn. Wooden boxes attached to each noria scooped up water from the Orontes and then deposited the water into a channel at the wheel’s rotation summit. Through the force of gravity, the water traveled along a series of aqueducts, which distributed the water to various areas in Hama. There was also a carefully thought-out schedule for access to the flow of water so that it could reach everyone.