The city of Shoushtar, could be called the biggest water museum in the world in view of the streams and rivulets that run through it and the lakes and reservoirs surrounding it. Shoustar is located in the northern part of Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran.
Water has always played a vital part in the formation of villages, emergence of cities and flourishing of civilizations. A glance at history shows that most ancient human civilizations sprang up besides rivers. In Iran, River Karoun has been the site of ancient civilizations, such as the Elamites.
Karoun is the biggest river of Iran and has its sources in the Zagros Mountains. It passes through the Shoushtar plain on its way to the Persian Gulf. The fertile soil and flat terrain coupled with abundant water resources has turned this region into one of the most important agricultural poles of Iran. During Achaemenid rule, some 2,500 years ago, the economy was dependent upon agriculture, and hence the rulers paid special attention to development of agriculture in this region.
After Achaemenids, the Parthians and later the Sassanids continued to expand Shoushtar's waterways and built the most unique irrigation network in old times. The same policy was continued after the advent of Islam and the rise of the glorious Islamic civilization. Although the most important goal in building Shoushtar's network of dams, dykes, canals, and bridges, has been irrigation, its architects have been able to achieve other great goals including industrial, commercial and defence.
At any rate, the harnessing of the Great Karoun River is proof to the talents and ingenuity of Iranians. According to experts, Shoushtar and its surroundings present one of the biggest and oldest man-made miracles before the industrial revolution. These networks stretch for several kilometers and even the architecture of these works is admirable. Today we will focus on these marvels of Shoustar
Karoun River splits into two branches when flowing into Shoushtar. One of the branches known as Gor Gor continues its path straight down south, while the known as Shatit turns right. After traversing a distance of 40 km these two branches join together in a place called "Band-e Ghir". Another dam called "Band-e Mizan" also has a fair share of Karoun waters and utilizes both the Gor Gor and Shatit rivers. The Iranians have built a network of canals in the region in order to develop irrigation around the natural and manmade islands that have come into existence as a result.
Several bridges dot the area and connect different parts of the Shustar area. These canals also feed the watermills in the region to grease the wheels of industry. Lands as far as 40 km south of Shoushtar have turned into green and fertile areas, thanks to the ingenuity of Iranians. There are several dams as well as such as the "Band-e Gorgor". It is worth noting over 50 large watermills exist in the area and have various industrial functions. The rivulets have also provided an opportunity to build beautiful fountains that catch the eye of visitors.
It is worth noting that Karoun River which flows gently on its way to the Persian Gulf because of the flat nature of Khuzestan is the means of generating energy in Iran. Because of the ingenuity of Iranians, even during floods the waters of Karoun River do not cause any havoc on the surrounding sites. This has earned the region the title of "Water Museum of the World". The good news is that this beautiful historical collection is registered as the 9th Iranian work at UNESCO.