In this image from 2004 in Afghanistan Kandahar region many small craters are seen. What are they?

enter image description here

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Could these be Qanats? $\endgroup$
    – Spencer
    Nov 16, 2016 at 18:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Look like qanats to me - common in the Middle East (eg. Iran), these are wells dug in order to dig underground aquaducts. In the case of Iran they often follow fault lines because the fault gouge is much easier to dig than the country rock... (ie. useful for reconnaissance mapping) $\endgroup$
    – winwaed
    Nov 16, 2016 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ Also common in Oman where almost every inland town has at least one line of spoil heaps above the qanat, or falaj as they are known locally. These village water supplies are line sinks, developed as early as about 3000 BC. $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2016 at 1:16

1 Answer 1


These are qanats, a type of antique drainage system common in arid climate regions of the Middle East, particularly in Iran (as mentioned by @Spencer @Winwaed). Some of those are still in use for storage because of lower underground temperature or to access the underground water.

In the picture posted by OP, it further make sense since the underground channels follow linear paths near, around and crossing the small stream, thus providing a remote access to water.

Here is an oblique picture showing the qanats of Bam in Iran (Higher resolution available at the source here).

enter image description here

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It would be nice to include more detail on how they work or are used. Where does the water come from? the local stream or are they harvesting water from elsewhere? How are the individual excavations connected to form a drainage system? $\endgroup$
    – haresfur
    Nov 17, 2016 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ @haresfur you are right - I will try to work on it $\endgroup$
    – marsisalie
    Nov 17, 2016 at 23:07

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