What Were the Method of Irrigation in Ancient Times?

Irrigation is the process of supplying water to crops, plants, and fields to ensure their growth and productivity. It has been practiced since ancient times by various civilizations across the world. In this article, we will explore the different methods of irrigation that were used in ancient times.

1. Surface Irrigation

Surface irrigation is one of the oldest and simplest methods of irrigation. The technique involves flooding the fields with water to provide moisture to the crops. This method was widely used in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China.


  • Low cost
  • Easy to implement
  • No special equipment required


  • Inefficient use of water
  • Waterlogging and soil erosion
  • Limited control over water distribution

2. Sprinkler Irrigation

Sprinkler irrigation is a method where water is distributed through a network of pipes and sprinklers that spray water over the crops. This method was first introduced in ancient Greece but gained popularity in the early 20th century.


  • Efficient use of water
  • Faster growth of crops due to better moisture distribution
  • No soil erosion or waterlogging issues


  • High installation cost
  • Maintenance can be costly and time-consuming
  • The risk of damage to crops due to strong wind currents or inadequate pressure control.

3. Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is a method where water is delivered directly to the roots of the plants through a network of pipes and emitters. This method was first introduced in ancient Israel in the 1960s.


  • Highly efficient use of water
  • Reduces weed growth and soil erosion
  • Saves time and labor costs as it requires less maintenance


  • High installation cost
  • The risk of clogging due to sedimentation or mineral build-up in pipes and emitters.

4. Canals and Aqueducts

Canals and aqueducts are man-made structures that were used to transfer water from one place to another. The earliest known canals were built by the ancient Egyptians around 4000 BC.


  • Can transport large quantities of water over long distances
  • No energy source required for transport


  • Expensive to construct and maintain
  • The risk of leakage or damage due to natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

In conclusion, irrigation has played a crucial role in the development of agriculture throughout history. The methods used in ancient times have evolved over time, but their basic principles remain the same.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on factors such as location, crops grown, and available resources. By understanding these different techniques, we can continue to improve our irrigation practices for a sustainable future.