Norias of Hama
The Norias of Hama (Arabic: نواعير حماة) are a number of norias ("wheels of pots") along the Orontes River in the city of Hama, Syria. Only seventeen of the original norias remain. They are mostly unused now and serve an aesthetic purpose. They were called "the most splendid norias ever constructed." The norias of Hama were submitted as a tentative World Heritage Site by the Syrian Arab Republic in June 1999.
The earliest evidence for norias in Hama suggests they were developed during the Byzantine era, although none of the norias in Hama today precede the Ayyubid period. However, a mosaic found at Apamea dating to 469 CE pictures a noria very similar to those at Hama, suggesting they may have earlier origins. It was during the Mamluk era that many of the norias—initially started during the rule of the Ayyubid dynasty in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century—were reconditioned and enlarged. The Mamluks also increased the amount of norias in the city. At one time, medieval Hama contained more than thirty of the waterwheels. Aqueducts and other channeling systems were built to take water from the Orontes River and use it to irrigate nearby fields. Now only 17 norias remain, unused.
The noria wheel is up to 20 meters (66 ft) in diameter. The water in the river is channeled into a sluice so that its flow turns the wheel around. Wooden boxes attached to the wheel raise the water from the sluice and discharge it into an artificial channel at the summit of the wheel's rotation. The water is then led by gravity along a series of aqueduct channels. It was distributed to domestic or agricultural users in Hama; access to the flow was regulated at carefully worked-out times so that the water could be shared.
There are two norias on the river close to the citadel. Upstream from the town center at Bichriyat, are four more wheels that can be viewed from outdoor restaurants. Downstream from the center is the largest noria, the al-Mohamadiyya, which used to supply the Great Mosque with water. Part of its old aqueduct still spans the road. It was built in the fourteenth century and restoration work on it began in 1977.
- Needham and Ronan, 1995, p.281.
- Adriana De Miranda (2007). Water Architecture in the Lands of Syria: The Water-wheels. L'ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER. pp. 53–. ISBN 978-88-8265-433-7. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- Ring, Berney, Salkin, La Boda, Watson, and Schellinger, 1996, p.137-138.
- Ring, Trudy; Berney, K.A.; Salkin, Robert M.; La Boda, Sharon; Watson, Noelle; Schellinger, Paul (1996), International Dictionary of Historic Places: Middle East and Africa, Routledge, ISBN 1-884964-03-6.
- Needham, Joseph; Ronan, Colin A. (1995), The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 5, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-46773-X.