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The Upper Orontes Watermill Documentation Project – University of Copenhagen

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The Upper Orontes Watermill Documentation Project

A unique group of large vertical-wheeled watermills has existed on the upper reaches of the Orontes River in Syria since at least the fifteenth century, probably much earlier. Working within the archaeological framework we have established in the Homs Region, and drawing on archival sources in conjunction with architectural and ethnographic investigation, this project documents a little known and important part of Syria’s rural Islamic cultural heritage as it has changed through time.


This project is sponsored by the Max van Berchem Foundation


The Max van Berchem Foundation is a scientific foundation established in

Geneva, Switzerland, in memory of Max van Berchem (1863-1921), the

founder of Arabic epigraphy. Its aim is to promote the study of Islamic and

Arabic archaeology, history, geography, art, religion and


I also wish to acknowledge the continued support of:

The Syrian Department of Antiquities, in particular Mr. Farid Jabbour, Miss Miriam Bshesh, Mrs. Shereen al-Fares, Miss Lucia Khabbaz and Mr. Abdul Qader Khaluf of the Homs office, and the SHR co-director Dr. Michel Maqdissi,

The  mill owners and operators, the Minbara family of Qousseir, and the Abd al-Nabi family of Tal Nabi Mand.

Project Participants: Dr. Marianne Boqvist (Marianne Boqvist, Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul), Dr. Matthew Godfrey (University of Leicester), Miss Holly Parton (Chichester UK), Dr. Cristina Tonghini (University of Venice Ca’Foscari), and collaborators from the Homs branch of the Syrian Department of Antiquities, Mrs. Shereen al-Fares and Miss Lucia Khabbaz.

Local collaborators: Miss Claude Qarwashan and Père Frantz (al-Ard), Mr. Wa’el Abduallah (Syrian Kuwait Insurance Company, Homs), Mr. Daniel Kassouha (Qouseir) and Mr. Mahmud Kayssoun (Kayssoun Company, Homs).