The Water Landscape of Turpan, China (2015-present)

Archaeology and landscape of irrigation systems in Turpan, PhD research Sophie Barbaix

Eeuwenoude rrigatiesystemen in Turpan (Xinjiang, China)Daily life and agriculture in the Turpan basin in the northwest of China in the autonomous region of Xinjiang is dictated by the access to water. Due to the dryness of the region and its extreme temperatures throughout the year, the people are almost completely dependent on irrigation.

Throughout time several irrigation systems have been used in Turpan. These have left imprints on the landscape. The most typical system is the karez system. These tunnels are built using consecutively dug shafts and they transport the water of the elevated areas tot he lower regions. The huge advantage is the lack of evapotranspiration of the water.

However, many of these systems are deteriorating and are threatened by modern development. It is thus the right moment to research the water and karez system from a landscape perspective in history. By using field survey and satellite imagery data is collected and then processed. By using interdisciplinary techniques the water landscape can thus be reconstructed.

 Eeuwenoude rrigatiesystemen in Turpan (Xinjiang, China)  Eeuwenoude rrigatiesystemen in Turpan (Xinjiang, China)

The research is done in collaboration with the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography and is supported by a 'CAS-TWAS president's fellowship' of the University of the Chinese Academy of Science.


Prof. dr. Jean Bourgeois

Sophie Barbaix