Yet, Hamas deserves a visit in its own right, not only because is has a most charming town center but mostly because of its spectacular large wooden waterwheels – a Roman invention so ingenious that you have to see it in order to fully grasp its significance.
Known under their Arabian name as norias, their earliest traces are found in a mosaic dating from 469 AD but they may have been used before. Anyway, in the fifth century, at least 100 of these waterwheels must have existed. Hard to imagine when we are faced with “only” seventeen survivors in
today, for even this small
reflection of times past is extremely impressive! Hama
It is not just one waterwheel here and there, but a complete chain of norias on both sides of the
Their size varies between 23 and 69 feet (7 to 21 meters), a few stories
high, and when you stand next to one of them you truly feel dwarfed! When they are
activated by high water levels, which happens only rarely because of the dams
constructed higher upstream, their creaking and squeaking noise is said to be
deafening and terrifying at the same time. One such wheel lies flat on the
ground next to the bridge, and clearly proves how ingenious and simple the very
The oldest still working waterwheels date from the 14th and 15th century and the largest one counts no less than 120 wooden scoops to carry the water to a higher level, i.e. to the connecting aqueduct from where it was led away to the irrigate the neighboring fields.
This is so incredibly ingenious!