How Did People Dig Wells in Ancient Times?

Wells have been an essential part of human civilization for thousands of years. They have provided water for drinking, irrigation, and other daily activities.

But how did people dig wells in ancient times? Let’s explore the methods used by our ancestors to create this vital resource.

Early Techniques

The earliest known technique for digging wells was manual labor with shovels and pickaxes. This method required a lot of time, effort, and manpower. It was also limited to areas with easily accessible soil and rocks.

Another method was using animal power to dig wells. This technique involved using animals like donkeys or oxen to pull a large scoop or bucket attached to a rope. The scoop would be lowered into the ground and then lifted up by the animals.

Water Divining

Water divining, also known as dowsing, is an ancient method used to locate underground water sources. It involves using a forked stick or metal rods that supposedly move when they come close to water. The person holding the rods would walk around until they felt a pull towards a particular spot, indicating the presence of water.

While there is no scientific evidence to support this method’s effectiveness, it was widely used in ancient times and is still practiced today.

Boring Tools

As technology advanced, people began using specialized tools designed explicitly for digging wells. Some of these tools included augers, which are spiral-shaped tools used for drilling into the ground manually. Augers were often powered by hand-cranked drills or powered machines.

Another tool commonly used was the percussion drill. This drill worked by pounding a chisel or bit into the ground repeatedly until it created a hole deep enough for water.


In conclusion, digging wells in ancient times required creativity, hard work, and ingenuity. From manual labor with shovels and pickaxes to specialized tools like augers and percussion drills, our ancestors developed various techniques to access this vital resource. While the methods have evolved over time, the importance of wells remains the same – providing us with a source of clean water for our daily needs.

  • Manual labor with shovels and pickaxes
  • Animal power
  • Water divining
  • Boring tools such as augers and percussion drills