One might think that locations of settlements through history depended on the existence of a nearby permanent water source. Wåhlin thinks that anthropologists and geographers seem to have missed that people in settlements in many parts of the Middle East were able to create for themselves a near-permanent water supply in places where nature was not kind enough to place a river or a spring. Several sites in Jordan provide examples of these creations. Despite an arid to semi-arid climate, several civilizations have started and flourished in these conditions. This paper summarizes the types of systems that people have used through history to develop reliable water supplies in this part of the world. Jawa was a settlement in northern Jordan during the Bronze Age that built an extensive hydraulic system. At Um El Jimal, a city in northern Jordan during the Byzantine era, deflection dams, canals and reservoirs provided a local water supply. Neabateans excelled in water management using cut-stone reservoirs in their capital, Petra, and their empire flourished more than 2500 years ago in what is now southern and central Jordan. Underground cisterns found in Umayyad desert castles in different parts of the country reveal similar activities during the Islamic era. Examining how water resources were managed long ago can provide relevant information in facing the water-resources challenges of today in arid lands.

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