Aflaj Water Management and the Use of Stars
Rawan Al Nadabi
The UNESCO Chair on Aflaj Studies- Archaeohydrology organized a lecture on Aflaj Water Management:The Use of Stars in Oman, presented by Dr Harriet Nash a researcher in the UNESCO Chair on Aflaj Studies. The lecture was based on research that Dr Nash did for her master's thesis.
The lecture began by discussing the various methods used for Aflaj water management timing, which vary by region in Oman. Each method used was best for that region's Aflaj, and they are all adequate for its needs. Dr. Nash, on the other hand, focused the lecture on one of the methods, which is using stars to manage Aflaj's timing.
Star gazing is a practice of identifying the timing of the Aflaj water shares throughout the day and figuring out when each share stops and starts. Time identification is done by observing on a local horizon the star’s position rise and set. It is important to note that different names for the same star may exist in different regions.
Dr Nash highlighted in her presentation that the star gazing practice is about to diminish as the people who are practising it are getting older and some are already died, she said explaining the situation “It was sad to witness the death of this practice” She attributed the reason to younger generation lack of interest in this practice and taking responsibility towards the village. Dr Nash urged the current Flaj communities to collaborate in order to preserve this practice.
According to Dr Abdullah Al-Ghafri, professor and holder of the UNESCO Chair on Aflaj Studies-Archaeohydrology, the University has been key in maintaining and documenting Aflaj water management practices. He said, "UCASA team is preserving this heritage by documenting it and making it accessible to observe through the books produced in the University library." Aflaj for Engineers and the course simply titled Aflaj are two of the Aflaj-related courses offered by the University.