Timing water shares in Wādī Banī Kharūṣ, Sultanate of Oman


  • Abdullah al-Ghafri
  • Harriet Nash
  • Mohammed al-Sarmi


The falaj irrigation system of Oman once provided settlements with all their water needs, but their main use, then and now, is for the cultivation of crops. In most places, the water is shared among farmers such that it is necessary to time the allocation of water. Before wristwatches became widely available, farmers used sundials in the daytime and stars at night to know when to divert the falaj flow to their fields. These traditional practices are still followed, with many villages using the sundial, but only a few using stars. This paper presents the methods of traditional timing in two such villages, Stāll and Hajīr, located a few kilometres apart in Wādī Banī Kharūş, on the northern flanks of the Jabal Akhḍar, with a focus on the rapidly dying art of star use. The stars were identified in the field; the method of watching stars is the same, rising above the horizon, but there are several differences between the two villages in the stars used and their names. These differences are explored in light of previous findings in other villages in Oman. Comparisons are also made with traditional irrigation water timing in Iran, which has been considered the source of the technique of falaj irrigation.





How to Cite

al-Ghafri, A., Nash, H., & al-Sarmi, M. (2013). Timing water shares in Wādī Banī Kharūṣ, Sultanate of Oman. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 43, 1–11. Retrieved from http://archaeopresspublishing.com/ojs/index.php/PSAS/article/view/1571