Todaro P., Barbera G., Castrorao Barba A. (Escuela de Estudios Árabes, CSIC), Bazan G., “Qanāts and historical irrigated landscapes in Palermo’s suburban area (Sicily)”, PCA European Journal of Postclassical Archaeologies, Volume 10, 2020, pp. 335-370.
The city of Palermo and its surrounding valley is an important historic irrigated landscape, characterized by underground hydraulic structures and by a long tradition of irrigation systems inherited from the Islamic presence in Sicily throughout the Middle Ages (9th-11th century). The Islamic “green revolution” radically innovated the irrigation systems of Sicily and thus also lead to the introduction and diffusion of new irrigated crops. In Palermo’s suburban areas, 63 hydraulic infrastructure and drainage tunnel sites have been surveyed and classified into 4 hydraulic categories: 1) qanāts; 2) blind qanāts; 3) connected wells; 4) emerging drainage galleries. These structures, notwithstanding some doubts concerning their exact dating, seem to be typical of the Medieval period. The Norman Favara / Maredolce castle and park (12th century) is a particularly interesting case study in evaluating the role of Islamic heritage in Palermo valley water management and is an extraordinary example of how Islamic hydraulic engineering was used to demonstrate royal power.