Ab Anbar

by Hamed Fathi

Ab anbar (āb-anbār) means 'water storage' in Persian. The main purpose of water storage is To provide a completely waterproof container for a large volume of water while allowing for proper ventilation and access.

ab anbar fateme khan

On the Central Plateau of Iran, where the rainfall is low and seasonal rivers cause extreme conditions in supplying water, a creative traditional solution has been a unique kind of water reservoirs.These structures are usually located in the center of the city neighborhoods and made up of four main parts:
1-A underground reservoir, which is cube or cylindrically shaped (below the ground surface in order to keep the water temperature low) And
2-A dome, built over the reservoir
3- A pasheer or platform, which is used for taking water from the reservoir (access to it through the stairway)
4-A Badgir or wind catcher shafts,To bring the air flow to prevent the water rotting or becoming putrid.(up to 6)

ab anbar shahdad
How to build water storage structures is very important because they should be resistant to earthquake and stored water pressure. Ab-Anbars were often constructed by first digging a cylindrical or sometimes rectangular tank deep into the ground (up to 20m). The walls of the storage (usually 2m thick) were built using specially baked bricks called "Ajor ab anbari". The thick brick walls were also superb insulators, preventing warming and freezing of the stored water. It was then covered with a 3cm layer of waterproof mortar called "sarooj" (it was made up of specific proportions of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash) . The proportion of mortar components were custom designed for different areas and weather conditions. The tank was then covered with a dome in order to protect the water in the tank from evaporation and Pollution from wind dust and bird droppings. The windcatchers that projected from the dome allowed for dry desert air to flow in and out of the dome, performing the dual functions of ventilating and cooling to prevent air stagnation and humidity accumulation air there by preserving the integrity of the water and a year round supply of pure, clean, cool water.After that purity of water was completely preserved by disconnecting the main reservoir with humans.

ab anbar1
The capacity of the traditional cylindrical cistern varies generally from 300 to 3,000 cu m. This upper limit is dictated by the fact that the maximum diameter allowed by the method of construction is about 20 m. If the depth of the tank is up to 10 m, its capacity would be about 3,000 cu m. In a few localities the cisterns have an even greater capacity, and some exceptional examples have been cited as able to hold up to 100,000 cu m.
The use of cisterns in Iran has been diminishing rapidly due to the widespread use of piped water and household refrigerators. Except for a few cases still in use, most of these cisterns so called "Ab-Anbar" have either given way to new developments or have been re-modeled as tourist attractions.



1. Pope, Arthur Upham. Persian Architecture. Tandem Verlag GmbH., 2007. China
2. Amin Saeidian/ Elixir Sustain. Arc. 56A (2013) 13584-13590
3. Narāqī, Āṯār-e tārīḵī, pp. 306-308; Siroux, Anciennes voies et monuments, p. 125.

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