Ancient Watersystems: Dikes & Canals

Dutch Windmills, Kinderdijk, Netherlands - 3699

Dutch Windmills, Kinderdijk, Netherlands – 3699 (Photo credit: HereIsTom)

Having studied a bunch of the amazing things our first forefathers made got me wondering about the dikes in Holland. Turns out their dike system isn’t terribly ancient, although “Pliny the Elder” (about the time of Jesus) had this to say about the Dutch:

A miserable people is living there on high hills or rather on mounds erected by hand till from one’s own experience known level of the highest tide and on these mounds they have built their huts. Historia Naturalis

That doesn’t sound anything like the major systems they have today!

But, a number of other people groups used dikes in the early years after the Ark landed.

The Egyptians:

Nile

We all know they captured water from the yearly flooding of the Nile to irrigate their crops the whole year. Did you know a big part of this system included raised walls to form storage ponds and guide water to them?

I found a detailed and not too Evolutionary page where you can learn a lot about what they did and why it worked so well for 1,000s of years here: Egypt’s Nile Valley Basin Irrigation by Sandra Postel.  Remember. they say things happened before time started because they trust Carbon-14 Dating.

The Mesopotamians:

In Iraq, canals make the difference between lu...

The Grand Canal, north of Baghdad, modern irrigation in Mesopotamia

The Tigris and Euphrates get their water from high in the Turkish mountains. The reason the Nile has such “gentle” floods is because the melting waters from Africa’s mountains flow first into lakes (Victoria and Tana) before continuing down the river. Mesopotamia doesn’t have this protection system. Their floods were larger and more unpredictable, so the people had to come up with a system or move.

Being smart and hard workers, they built their own series of dikes, canals and even city walls to protect themselves and their crops from these floods.

The Mesopotamian floods washed in more than just water, too. All rivers carry tiny bits of rock, called silt, which brings fresh nutrients for the plants. But the Turkish mountains bring something else down, too- salt.

Early records from Lagaš or Lagash, not far from where the Tigris and Euphrates combine, tell an interesting story about this. At first they produced a lot of wheat, but within 400 years the ground was too salty to grow wheat at all!

Here’s where our thinking about the geological past comes in. If these rivers had been flowing in the same basic way (except during the worst of the “ice ages“), how did the salt build up so quickly in recorded history? I’m sure they can come up with a story, but I bet ours is simpler:

If those rivers had only been flowing from those mountains from the time the Ark landed, they didn’t have very long to start building salt deposits before people arrived!

China:

English: Mulanpo Irrigation System built in th...

Mulanpo Irrigation System built in the 11th century (Song Dynasty) in Putian, Fujian Province of China 中文: 建于11世纪(北宋)的福建莆田木兰陂水利工程 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found a page saying we know the earliest Chinese built irrigation systems, but gave no examples until about 250 BC. What IS cool about this “bamboo-based” irrigation system is how much better it survived a recent earthquake than modern technology did.

They also had a deep mountain shaft water system like the  Middle Easterners. Exciting stuff!

North America:

Of course, people didn’t settle so far from Babel for a while, but they brought a lot of knowledge with them when they did. Early Mexican and Native Americans built irrigation systems up to about a 1,000 years ago, but it’s not easy to find much about them. This webpage mentions both groups and their names if you want to learn more.

And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. Amos 9:5 

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