When you hear the term ‘watermill’, you immediately think of a grassy outdoor area, birds chirping, and a waterfall turning the heavy wheel of a mill; the Ashkezar Watermill is about to completely break that reality!
Built in the middle of the desert-town of Ashkezar, Yazd, Iran, the Ashkezar Watermill is one of the biggest watermills in all of Iran. Once upon a time, it was the flow of the vigorous Hematabad Qanat that effortlessly wheeled its heavy stones. The origins of the old mill can be found stemming from the turn of the 14th century; the Safavid Era. it is also said that it may date back to Ali Naqi Khan’s rule in the 19th century, the Ilkhanid Era.
In the same way that it was constructed around the existence of Hematabad Qanat, when it dried up, a few decades ago, the watermill also seized its operation. It was around 70 years ago, when the qanat’s water became heavily coagulated with sand and debris. As a result, the mill was completely buried for decades. It took five years and the perseverance of the local elders and ICHTO to uncover the aged watermill once again.
Currently a restoration project is underway, in order to rejuvenate the old mill and get it producing again!
Yet another masterpiece of Persian architecture and ingenuity. If you thought the Persian qanat system was impressive then wait to hear about this technology that extended from it!
For hundreds of years, it was Ashkezar’s sole producer of wheat flour. At its peak rate of production, the Ashkezar Watermillcould turn around 350 kilograms (or maybe 210 kilograms) of wheat into flour, per hour.
The Ashkezar Watermill building is constructed in an octagonal shape with four of the sides measuring 4.8 meters and the other four 2.75 meters in width. Each small side includes an arch with a notch. Two chambers have been devised on the right and left angles as well as the southern cloister, which was used for storing the mill equipment. The southern section of the watermill was where all the action happened (the wheel and grinder).
Needing to be powered by the qanat’s flow, the mill was constructed seven meters-deep underground. Since qanats use elevation-difference to create flow, the watermill had to be located under the qanat’s level to fully utilize its water pressure.
The entire structure of Ashkezar Watermill is made of bricks. From its tall and beautiful arcades to its capping dome, brick by brick the delicate patterns were constructed by the masterful Persian builders. To get down to milling site, visitors must travel down a 56 meter staircase and pass through the beautifully rustic wooden doors waiting at the bottom.
Ashkezar Watermill is one of the 18 water mills in the province to have been registered on the National Heritage List.