Ancient water management - qanats
Asked by: digsalot-ga
List Price: $20.00
20 Oct 2002 22:29 PDT
Expires: 19 Nov 2002 21:29 PST
Question ID: 85738
I am particularly interested in tracking down a letter that Darius The Great sent to one of his satraps berrating him for failing to get on with the job of digging and maintaining his assigned number of qanats. I read the letter over 10 years ago so I know that it exists.
Re: Ancient water management - qanats
Answered By: duncan2-ga on 21 Oct 2002 21:33 PDT
Hello digsalot, Thanks for such an interesting challenge! Though there are a number of websites and internet resources on Darius the Great (Darius I), finding documentation of his writings proved difficult. And while some of the resources I consulted mention messages between Darius and his satraps (and Alexander), few had the actual text of the letters. In the process of searching for this enigmatic irrigation missive, I found several additional mentions of a "Letter of Darius to Gadates". Interestingly, several of the pages spelled it "Gradates". Aceresearcher arrived at the same place I did, www.achemenet.com, which has several documents (mostly in French) that relate to Darius' letter to Gadatas. One document in particular has the versions of the letter in various languages, including English. Quoted from Page 4 of http://www.achemenet.com/pdf/grecs/gadatas.pdf : (Crawford-Whitehead 1983, 95B) « The King of Kings, Dareios son of Hystaspes,says this to his slave Gadatas : "I find that you are not obeying my commands in all respects; insofar as you are cultivating my land and planting the furthest parts of Asia with the fruit-trees from across the Euphrates, I praise your design and as a result great favour will lie in store for you in the house of the King; but insofar as you are flouting my disposition with respect to the gods,I shall make you experience the wrath of my spirit unless you change your course; for you are exacting tribute from the sacred gardeners of Apollo and ordering them to cultivate profane land,ignorant of my ancestors attitude to their god, who enjoined strict uprightness on the Persians and ... " » Also mentioning this letter were: "Darius reproaches Gradates for taxing the priests of Apollo, and forcing them to cultivate sacred ground" http://www.cais-soas.com/History/brief_history_of_persian_empire.htm (Last paragraph on page) The identical paragraph appears here: http://www.herodotuswebsite.co.uk/psnsub.htm (Hmmm, shared author, or 'shared' content?...) The same site has a reference to the letter again here: http://www.herodotuswebsite.co.uk/marathon.htm (Half-way down the page) Finally, I'll mention that the Crawford-Whitehead referenced in the translation above refers to the 1983 text, Archaic and Classical Greece: A Selection of Ancient Sources in Translation by Michael H. Crawford, David Whitehead ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0521227755 ) On a whim, I checked my university library for a copy and came up only with Crawford's 1984 volume, Sources for Ancient History ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0521289580 ) This one, while interesting, did not appear to contain any letters from Darius. Regrettably, none of the resources I consulted yielded a letter matching the description of the one you are seeking. So if there is truly such a letter as the one you describe, it remains an elusive epistle. Good luck on your hunting and let me know if I can be of further assistance! Regards, Duncan2-ga
rated this answer:
Both you and aceresearcher did a remarkable job. However, you pointed the direction first and have earned the crown. While information from University of South Africa gives a 90% + chance the letter to Gadates is the right one, or points in the right direction, the search goes on. The response from Queensland University was as follows: Hi R*** I just read this one! It is entirely possible that my memory has become blurred - you have fingered my secret fear!!! But the memory still nags at me vividly - insisting that such a letter exists. It was definitely a Persian ruler to a satrap in the Imperial era in which there was no doubt re: the ruler's displeasure in finding out that the satrap had not got on with his assigned task of digging and attending to his quota of wells (I imagine that means qanats). I can only imagine that it was Darius. Thank you for your extraordinary efforts and those of your friends and associates across the world! Please do not be concerned if it cannot be found easily. I will not stop until I have found it anyway and when I do, I too will have something to share with you!!! Catherine I am still waiting to hear from Oxford. In the meantime, you have been an important part of a project involving researchers on three continents. When and if another letter is found, and if you are interested, I will let you know. In the meantime, I think the ancient water management project will be occupying ever more of my time. It is sort of fun being a retired archaeologist called in to work on a project about a subject of which I knew next to nothing. But life does have its strange turns. Thanks again for a good job - both of you.
Re: Ancient water management - qanats
From: aceresearcher-ga on 21 Oct 2002 01:37 PDT
The purported "Letter of Darius to Gadatas", with translations in several languages, including English, is located at: http://www.achemenet.com/pdf/grecs/gadatas.pdf However, there is considerable academic controversy as to whether Darius' letter is genuine, or was forged by someone else in ancient times. Pierre Briant's Noruz Lecture on "New Trends In Achaemenid History" for the Foundation for Iranian Studies in Washington, D.C. (March 23, 2001) states: "But the re-examinations that I have offered recently (between 1998 and 2001) , have led me to the following conclusions: --in one case (the Letter of Darius to Gadatas), the document is a forgery of the Roman period." http://www.fis-iran.org/achemenid.htm If you feel this response has satisfied your requirements, please let me know and I will post it as an answer. If you need additional information, post a Request For Clarification and I will be glad to help you out. I hope this information will be of assistance to you!
Re: Ancient water management - qanats
From: aceresearcher-ga on 21 Oct 2002 07:17 PDT
digsalot, Just a thought - Is it possible your memory of the content of the letter has become blurred over the last 10 years? I ask this because Gadatus was indeed one of Darius' satraps, and although Darius praises Gadatus for "cultivating my land and planting the furthest parts of Asia with the fruit trees from across the Euphrates", he also berates the satrap "flouting my disposition with respect to the gods... for you are exacting tribute from the sacred gardeners of Apollo and ordering them to cultivate profane land". http://www.achemenet.com/pdf/grecs/gadatas.pdf In addition, Pierre Briant states in his Noruz lecture that "The only ancient mention of qanats, as has been well known, is a passage of the Hellenistic historian Polybius (Histories, X.28), describing an expedition conducted by Antiochos the Third against the Parthian king Arsaces the Third, in Parthia itself, between Rhagai (just next to Tehran) and Hekatompylos (at modern Shahr-i Qumis)...Here is what it says (for convenience, I quote the translation by Paton, in the Loeb Classical Library, even though it is debatable in places): 'In this region of which I speak, there is no water visible on the surface, but even in the desert there are a number of underground channels communicating with wells unknown to those not acquainted with the country'. (X.28.2-3)... At the time when the Persians were the rulers of Asia they gave to those who conveyed a supply of water to places previously unirrigated the right of cultivating the land for five generations [so that] people incurred great expense and trouble making underground channels reaching a long distance..." http://www.fis-iran.org/achemenid.htm Regards, aceresearcher
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