WHP Logo

The White Horse Press

Environment and History

Contents of Volume 23

Other volumes of E&H

Environment and History

Cooperation and Private Enterprise in Water Management in Iraq: Continuity and Change between the Sasanian and Early Islamic Periods (Sixth to Tenth Centuries)

Michele Campopiano

Environment and History 23 (2017): 385-407. doi: 10.3197/096734017X14979473873867

Download reference in Endnote or BibTex format

This article shows that the management of water resources in Late Sasanian and Early Islamic Iraq (sixth to tenth centuries ad) implied the participation of local communities and the mutual cooperation of landholders. The organisation of water management in the Late Sasanian Period (sixth to seventh centuries) depended on a highly complex system of interaction between local communities, aristocratic rulers and the imperial bureaucracy. This interaction allowed the government to gather information from different regions of the empire and to understand the needs of the different stakeholders. As such, the system provided a favourable institutional framework for the expansion of irrigated agriculture. The system changed when landholding conditions were transformed in the Early Islamic period, during the ninth century. These institutional transformations allowed the influence of a group of tax-farmers and merchant-bankers to increase. Irrigation policies were therefore bent to the interests of these new elites, which often lay in short-term gains rather than in long-term success. The article suggests that, in the long run, these socio-economic and institutional changes contributed substantially to the breakdown of the agricultural system in Ancient Iraq.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation, water management, property rights, Sasanian Empire, Sawād, Iraq

Download full text (PDF format) from IngentaConnect. Access is free if your institution subscribes to Environment and History.
Reprints of this article can be ordered from the British Library

Contact the publishers for subscriptions and back numbers of Environment and History.

Other papers in this volume

The Old Vicarage, Winwick
Cambridgeshire, PE28 5PN, UK
Tel: +44 1832 293222