A Note on the Gargar Irrigation System

Document Type : Research Paper


Iranian Center for Archaeological Research (ICAR), Tehran, Iran and Honorary Research Associate of the University of Sydney


Sasanian’s imperial policy aimed to construct new towns, massive irrigation infrastructures, and land modification by
depopulating rural areas in order to carry out massive agriculture projects particularly in Khuzestan. Shushtar with its
ancient relics presents a unique chance to investigate some of these development activities, mainly in terms of irrigation.
Several chief irrigation organs have been identified inside and to south of Shushtar to shift parts of the Karun River water
to the Gargar and control its flow in order to create a complex transformed landscape where it is known as the Mianab
plain today.
The Gargar Channel and its expansion over the plain have not yet been systematically investigated. One of the main
issues is whether the Gargar was opened as an artificial channel during Sasanian period or it was a natural stream, the flow
and capability of which was utilized by ancient people for irrigation purposes. Two major obstacles to address this issue
include lack of sufficient historical accounts about this ancient irrigation system, and landscape elucidation, i.e. separating
changes created by human and those formed naturally through field examinations.
Evidence presented and briefly discussed in this article would hypothesize that this watercourse was originally a man
made channel that was later on changed its course and formed a naturally cut river. That is why two terms are presented
here: the Gargar “Channel” and the Gargar “River”. It is also proposed that an avulsion had occurred at the point where
Band-e Mahibazan is located and changed the course of the Gargar Channel forever.