Ancient water management techniques to counteract drought and desertification in the Mediterranean

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

People always have had to confront themselves with the unforeseeable behaviour of the environment and climatic variability. However, for the first time in the history of our planet, climatic change is today caused by human activity. This situation of global crisis is caused by a series of factors that make of the present emergency a new scenario, exposing entire areas of the planet to the risk of lack of water and desertification. However, desert and desertification are two different things. The desert is characterised by a precise ecological balance established in the course of time by specific climatic conditions. These precise conditions have generated knowledge capable of facing adversities with appropriate techniques for capturing and distributing water, for preserving soil, for recycling and for the economical use of energy. The paper analyse the different solutions adopted in ancient periods in order to cope with water scarcity. In particular the study compares the Neolithic experiences in the Puglia Region and in the Sassi di Matera (Italy) with similar structures in the rest of Mediterranean. These traditional solutions are today proposed in a new innovative form to cope with environmental crises.

Keywords: desertification, environmental crises, new sustainable paradigm, traditional knowledge, water harvesting

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