Sennacherib’s Aqueduct at Jerwan

In 1933, the British Royal Air Force photographed the aqueduct, which sits next to a small Kurdish village. It connects the Khinis Canal between the points marked A and B by passing over a stream. Source: RAF, 1933.
From Nineveh’s North Palace, this relief likely portrays the aqueduct routing a network of canals through an orchard. Such carvings emphasized that the Assyrian king controlled his subjects, and also nature itself. Source: Trustees of the British Museum.
Flowing across the Jerwan Aqueduct (red), the long spine of the Khinis Canal (blue) is branched with small offtakes (yellow) to irrigate local fields. Source: British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI), 1955.
Much of the agricultural land on the outer edges of Nineveh, where evidence of canals and canal off-takes was visible in 1955 (left), has been overtaken by urban expansion and invisible by 2004 (right).

On its ninety-five-kilometer journey from the mountains to Nineveh, the Khinis canal crossed over an aqueduct at Jerwan. Commissioned by Sennacherib and designed by Assyrian engineers, the aqueduct allowed long-distance canals to cross high ground and valleys with equal ease. The monumentality and engineering of the Jerwan aqueduct exemplifies the power of the Assyrian Empire. Although ancient inscriptions focus on the elite in the capital, these images show offtakes from the main canal that suggest the water also helped Assyrian farmers as it made its way towards Nineveh.

“Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria (says): For a long distance… I caused a canal to be dug to the meadows of Nineveh. Over deep-cut ravines I spanned a bridge of white stone blocks. I caused those waters to flow over it.”

Inscription on the aqueduct at Jerwan