Cistern by the Great Temple in Petra, Jordan

Cistern (noun)- an underground container used for collecting and storing rainwater, or a tank on the roof of a building that holds water

The Nabataeans established Petra as their capital and center of their caravan trade (more on this later). They constructed an ingenious water system that supplied the desert city with fresh perennial stream from a nearby valley Wadi Musa. The Nabataeans calculated just the right angle of decline for the water pipes to provide enough water pressure to the city center and yet gradual enough to prevent leakage between socketed pipeline around the joints. Additionally, they built underground cisterns to collect rainwater and store it for later use.

Fast-forward 2200 years. Jenny Lawson wrote about her eccentric childhood growing up in Wall, Texas in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. When pipes froze in the winter, her family filled up pots of slightly brown water from their cistern and heated the icy water up on the stove to bathe in. On special occasions her neighbors would invite them over to swim in a pool, which was created by an open-air cistern that the neighbors used to water pigs. Although Lawson’s memoir was humorous at parts, her use of run-on sentences, stream-of-consciousnesses narrative, and numerous filler words was just as peculiar to me as her upbringing.

Water channel along the Siq
Longitudinal section of the watertight, ceramic pipe
Transverse section of the pipe

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