Ancient Windmills Built Over 1,000 Years Ago from Mud, Clay, and Straw Still Operate Today

When we think of wind power as an energy source, we probably think of giant, ugly turbines wreaking havoc on the landscape. But a village in Iran reveals how our ancestors made turbines out of wood and clay, not steel and concrete; With such intelligence, they are still being used today – several thousand years later.

The name of the small town in northeastern Iran is Nashtifan, which means “fierce storm”, due to the ferocity of the winds blowing from the north all year round. Located on a windy plain about 40 km from the Afghan border, Nashtifan is famous for its ancient windmills, the oldest in the world.

Immersed in the semi-desert landscape, built on a high hill, an army of 40 windmills about 20 meters high serve two purposes: to act as a buffer zone, protecting the village from the currents violent air and grind the grain into flour. Locals call the technique of using wind to power mills “asbad”. In a stroke of genius, Iranian architects positioned and designed windmills so that they “caught” air into the openings, causing the blades to rotate, thereby providing power to the windmills. A vertical shaft rotates the mill, crushing the grain.

"Image
1,000-year-old windmills in Iran’s Nashtifan, near the border with Afghanistan. (V4ID Afsahi/Shutterstock)
"Image
Dark clouds loom over windmills in Nashtifan, Iran. ( Hadidehghanpour /CC BY-SA 4.0)

Every year from late May to late September, extreme wind gusts increase even more. According to UNESCO, it is known as the “120-day wind or black wind,” and speeds sometimes reach 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour. Such persistent conditions, combined with water shortages in the area, gave engineers of the time the idea of ​​optimizing its power. Everything is built with natural materials. In addition to wood, clay and straw, they also used locally grown palm leaves to make the blades, which were tightly woven together and attached to the central shaft.

One man has dedicated his life to taking care of these unique structures. Supervisor Ali Mohammad Etebari has spent years doing daily inspections and maintenance. Speaking in an interview with the International Wood Culture Association in 2017, Etebari said: “We put wheat in the mill, we get flour… we make nan bread, we eat and reward wake it”.

“I am a driver and I have also taken care of it for the past 28 years.”

"Image
The windmill at Nashtifan is still operating after about 1,000 years. (V4ID Afsahi/Shutterstock)
"Image
The windmill at Nashtifan provided the power to grind grain into flour. (V4ID Afsahi/Shutterstock)

The older man explained that, historically, several members of the same family would look after a single workshop; but now he alone acted as caretaker of all the mills. The almost perfect preservation of the windmills is due to the local arid climate.

“Here, there is no humidity,” he said. It’s very dry, so they last a long time.”

Etebari says the wheat produced through this truly artisanal process is “very different.” “It’s delicious, very healthy and good for the stomach. This wheat is perfect; The wheat you get outside, it’s not like that.”

"Image
Besides providing wind power for locals to grind grain into flour, windmills also help reduce strong winds in northeastern Iran. (V4ID Afsahi/Shutterstock)

Etebari went on to explain the craftsmanship of windmills.

“They are working without electricity, without diesel, benzine [fuel] or anything else. Only thanks to the wind – and for the wind we don’t have to pay anything.”

In his wisdom, it was important that the tree trunk used for the vertical shaft and other parts had its bark intact, otherwise the wood would crack.

“I am their caretaker,” Etebari said with some pride. If I don’t take care of it, the children will come and destroy it. The children came to cause trouble and throw stones.”

"Image
Grains are ground into flour in a windmill in Nashtifan, Iran. (V4ID Afsahi/Shutterstock)
"Image
Wooden turbines harness the power of wind while providing protection from strong winds for residents of Nashtifan, Iran. (V4ID Afsahi/Shutterstock)
"Image
Nashtifan windmill in Iran (Hamed Yeganeh/Shutterstock)

Mr. Etabari’s last words sounded a bit sad. “I’m the only one taking care of this,” he said, climbing up to check the nearest windmill, in a crouching position.

Knowing how the older man put his heart and soul into maintaining one of Nashtifan’s vital food sources, and the incredible nature of this ancient technique, some may feel It was heartening to learn that several official agencies, including the Iranian Heritage Foundation, were already conducting restoration efforts in the area. Considered one of the first examples of wind energy technology on the planet, the Nashtifan windmill is also being considered for nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Historically known as Persia, Iran’s use of windmills is believed to date back some 5,000 years, its design later spreading throughout the world.

 

Related Posts

Bergama Ancient City Now Accessible in the Digital World

As a result of the studies carried out by the German Institute, Bergama Ancient City was It was transferred to the digital environment in the 3rd as it is century. As it is known, the ancient city of Bergama was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list …

Roman Tomb with Magical Nails to Ward Off ‘Restless Dead’ Unearthed in Türkiye

In the ancient city of Sagalassos in southwestern Türkiye, archaeologists have identified an unusual burial practice from the early Roman imperial period, consisting of deliberately bent nails, covering tiles, and a layer of lime. A team of archaeologists …

Scholars Unveil Ancient Roman Physician Galen’s Pharmacy Legacy in İzmir

As a part of research on medicinal plants in Bergama, İzmir’s historic district where Galen (129 AD -200 AD) once resided, academics from Ege University are investigating the contributions of the renowned ancient Roman physician’s prescriptions over the …

Rare 1,000-Year-Old Gold Earring Unearthed in Denmark

A metal detectorist in Denmark uncovered a one-of-a-kind piece of 11th-century gold jewelry that had never been seen in Scandinavia before. Experts claim that the stunning gold earring found at a field near Bøvling in West Jutland, Denmark, may have been …

Italian Versailles: Restoring a Historic Masterpiece to Its Former Glory

The Italian Royal Palace of Caserta, a long-neglected near Naples, is being restored to its former glory through a vast restoration project funded in part by the European Union’s recovery fund. Nicknamed the “Italian Versailles”, after the royal palace …

Remarkable Mayan Innovations and Achievements You Need to Know

The Mayans excelled at agriculture, pottery, writing, calendars, and arithmetic, leaving an incredible quantity of spectacular architecture and symbolic artwork behind. The ancient Maya, a varied collection of indigenous people who lived in modern-day …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *