Sinceancient times people have been looking for natural sources of water for both drinking purposes and watering crops. One of the water sources is groundwater from the aquifers situated in mountainous and foothill areasto access which kahrizes arebuilt. There are many ancient and medieval kahrizes onecan come across in Azerbaijan. The obtained historical facts allow us to date the history of these water systems back to 2000-2200 years ago. Research, especially the materials obtained during archeological excavations, culturalartifacts andthe views of medieval authors prove that Azerbaijan was one of the areas in the world where the first kahrizes were formed.


The archaeologist Y.H Hummel discovered the remains of an ancient kahriz in a cemetery around Shamkhorchay (Shamkirchay) during archeological excavations in the nineteenthirties. According to the artifact samples obtained during the excavations, the monument dates back to the 1st century BC. The scientist also showed the use of kahrizes for irrigating fields in Ganja and surrounding areas. Based on medieval sources, a number of researchers, including the academician A.Alizade and the prominent orientalist I.Petrushevsky,came to the conclusion that there are four types of irrigation in Azerbaijan, formed in ancient times, existing in the Middle Ages and further developed:

2. River (with the help of canals and reservoirs);
3. Kahriz (exposing groundwater to the surface through special sewers);

The first two types of irrigation are related to the surface, and the next two types are related to underground irrigation facilities. Thus, the demand in drinking, domestic and irrigation water has been one of the main factors in the establishment of kahriz systems in Azerbaijani cities.

J. Chardon, the French traveler, who came to Azerbaijan in the 17th century, describes the kahriz system, as follows: “They (Azerbaijanis - the author) dig the bottom of the mountain to find “groundwater”. They used to dig underground channels 8-10 lye, sometimes longer, to ensure that the discovered water flowed well from a height. There is no other nation in the world that is able tosave so much water. Sometimes the depth of groundwater sources reached from 10 to 15 tuaz. Such underground canals are 8 to 10 feet deep and 2 to 3 feet wide.”

The artifacts discovered during archeological excavations and agricultural works confirm that kahriz systems were widely used in Baku in the Middle Ages. Sara Ashurbeyli, a researcher of the history of Baku city, states that in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, Baku had a water pipeline and a kahriz system that supplied water to the population of the fortress. Archaeological excavations in the city and materials found during construction work provide some insight into these water mains and kahriz systems.For example, during excavations in 1953 at the intersection of Lermontov and B.Sardarov streets in Baku, a water pipeline was discovered in the direction of the Old City stretching out from the north-west to the south-east of the city. According to the outstanding scientist A.Alizade, the water of the canals dug in Chambarakand, located in the mountainous part of the city, flowed to the city through this pipeline. In addition, there was a water chamber in the upper part of Baku, in Niyazi Street which existed until recently.This line, called the Shah water pipeline, entered the fortress near the building of the present Baku City Executive Power and supplied water to the population living in the area where the Shirvanshahs' palace is now located. Also, during excavations in this area in 1958, an ancient water pipe made of carved rectangular stones at a depth of 10 meters was discovered near the Baku fortress wall. The stone is 14 cm wide and 20 cm tall on the inside. According to the inscription engraved on the stone in the Kufic script of the Arabic alphabet, the water line can be dated to the XI-XII centuries.


In 1959, near this place, under one of the towers, an underground channel,which was more than 45 meters long and about 1 meter high, was discovered. At the end of the sewer, there was a cell with an arched ceiling. This installation, which was studied and measured by the staff of the restoration workshop of the Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Architecture and Art of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan under the leadership of Professor Y. Pakhomov, is made entirely of limestone. The discovered kahriz was part of one of the canals supplying water to the castle, and the cell was a kind of watering pool.In 1953, while digging the foundation for the construction of a new house on Husu Hajiyev Street, 400-500 meters east of the castle walls in Baku, a kahriz was discovered at a depth of 8 meters underneath the ground. The main tunnel of this kahriz system continued in a straight line towards the upper part of the city. This water pipeline entered the fortress in the Shamakhi region and satisfied the needs of the population living in the eastern part of the city for drinking and domestic use of water.

The structure of the kahriz systems in Azerbaijan, the shape of the exits, the construction technique are identical with the kahrizes in the East and West Azerbaijan provinces of Iran.

Some of the kahrizes currently operating in Azerbaijan were built in the 19th century by wealthy people in the country. In the first quarter of the 19th century, kahriz systems were widespread in Azerbaijan. According to researchers of that period, the length of kahriz systems in Azerbaijan in the XIX century was about 2500 km. Kahrizes are widespread in Nakhchivan, Karabakh and Ganja. More than 50,000 desyatinz (72,500 hectares) of arable land in Azerbaijan were irrigated annually with kahriz water.

In the 30s of the XX century, there were 157 kahrizes with water flow rate of 10.23 m3 / sec in the Mil-Garabagh zone, and 140 kahrizes with 5.79 m3 / sec in the Araz valley. In Ganja alone, 8 kahriz systems with a water flow volume of 0.428 m3 / sec supplied the city with water. In general, there were 97 kahriz used by the population in Ganja city and 25 surrounding villages. 30 of them were built in different periods, being directly in the city. Among them are Masjid (30 l / sec), Juma (25 l / sec), Shahsevan (27 l / sec), Ozan (27 l / sec), Haji Mirgasim (30 l / sec), Haji Gadimli (28 l / sec). , Javad khan, Sharafkhanli (37 1 / sec), Haji Hilal, Sadilli (30 l / sec), Zulular (15 l / sec), Qaymagli (32 l / sec), Galalilar (27 1 / sec), Hajimammadli (26 l / sec), Seyid (25 l / sec), Arzumanli (16 l / sec), Abuzarbeyli (18 l / sec), Orta (18 l / sec) and other canals.
There are alsokahrizes famous for the water volume capacity in Azerbaijan, including Hamida khanum I kahriz (160 l / sec) in Karabakh, Chay kahriz in Nakhchivan (120 l / sec), Aliabad kahriz (114 l / sec) and others.

The principle of operation, structure, construction elements, classification according to their sources, restoration of kahriz systems, their operational features, as well as assessment of ecological condition, etc. of the kahriz systems spread in Azerbaijan are in serious need for research based on scientific principles.

KAHRIZESMost of the kahriz drilling work in Azerbaijan is carried out with the help of kankans coming from such regions of Iran as Tabriz, Urmia, Marand ,etc. The role of the Kankans from the regions was great. This is based on the historical data obtained, the tools used, the rules of drilling technology, etc.

According to estimates, in 1938, there were 885 officially registered kahrizes in Azerbaijan, and their water consumption was 13,354 m3 / sec. This is about 419.42 million m3 per year.

It should be noted that the volume of kahriz water currently used is 20-25% of the volume of 1938.Until 1939, kankans from the south of Iran were engaged in kahriz drilling activities in the areas of Nakhchivan, Ganja, Nagorno-Karabakh and Aran Karabakh.

It is an interesting fact that Iranian kankans who worked in Nakhchivan 70 years ago returned to Nakhchivan after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Due to the closing of the borders in 1939, many Iranian kankans working in Azerbaijan remained here, started a family and continued their professions until the end of their lives. They remained committed to their profession everywhere, no matter where they worked.