Marcus Milwright



The Archaeology of Urban Water Systems: The Cases of Nafpleio and Nafpaktos in Southern Greece

Throughout the Islamic world there are examples of impressive hydraulic engineering projects ranging from networks of underground canals (qanat) to large rain-fed cisterns located along arid sections of trade or pilgrimage routes. Fountains (sabils) were established to provide fresh water for town and city dwellers. Bathhouses (hammams) are another ubiquitous feature of traditional urban environments. Archaeology has the potential to trace the evolution of such water management systems in both rural and urban contexts. In particular, techniques such as excavations, field survey, and the analysis of aerial and satellite photographs can establish the spatial relationships of hydraulic features within a given area. The introduction to this paper will identify some of the significant areas in which archaeology has contributed to the study of Islamic water systems. The main part focuses on recent research on the Ottoman period (late 15th-early 19th century) in the port towns of Nafpleio and Nafpaktos (Lepanto) in southern Greece. The chronological development and distribution of the fountains, bathhouses, watermills, and other features are discussed in the light of evidence provided by primary textual sources, maps, and topographic representations. In the conclusion the water systems identified in Nafpleio and Nafpaktos are compared to those found in other regions of the Ottoman sultanate.

Biography / Bibliography

Marcus Milwright is Associate Professor of Medieval Islamic Art and Archaeology in the Department of History in Art of the University of Victoria, Canada. He received his doctorate in 1999 from the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, and has held fellowships with the Wingate Foundation, the Warburg Institute, the British Academy, and the Aga Khan Programs for Islamic Architecture in Harvard University and MIT. His research interests include the art and architecture of the Islamic Middle East, cross-cultural contacts in the Mediterranean, the history of medicine, European representations of Muslim rulers, and the Ottoman architecture of Greece. He is involved in archaeological projects in Jordan, Syria, Iran, and Greece. In 2001 he curated the exhibition of the Tanavoli metalwork collection, Persian Steel: A Mirror on Life in Iran, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. He has written chapters on Islamic art and archaeology for volumes 1 and 4 of the forthcoming New Cambridge History of Islam (Cambridge, 2008) and is the author of numerous journal articles. His book, The Fortress of the Raven: Karak in the Middle Islamic Period (c.1100-1650) will be published by Brill in 2008. He is currently writing a book on the archaeology of the Islamic world for Edinburgh University Press.

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