JUN 07, 2017 10:01 AM PDT

These ancient windmills are still in use after 1,000 years

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Iran's village of Nashtifan in the northeast part of the country boasts a technological marvel: ancient windmills that have been in use for roughly 1,000 years. Made from natural elements such as woods, clay, and straw, local people constructed these structures hundreds of years ago to protect the settlements from the infamous strong winds that whip across the village. However, the windmills act not only as protection for the people, but also as energy-generating sources.

The windmills in the village reach up to about 65 feet tall. Each is made up of eight chambers, and each chamber has six blades. When the wind enters the chambers it turns the blades, which then turn grindstones. Although the windmills do not actually generate any power (as the stones are not hooked up to a generator), the amount of energy that they would be able to produce is really quite minuscule.

Mohammad Etebari, the keeper of the windmills, says: "The windmills don't pollute the air like cars do. It's the pure, clean air that makes the windmills rotate-the life-giving air that everyone can breathe." But unfortunately that life-giving air might be taking its last breaths. Etebari is the last one who knows the ancient trade of the windmills, and none of the old man's children or other villagers seem interested in learning how to keep the tradition alive. When Etebari dies, this millennial-long legacy might go with him. Nevertheless, for the moment the windmills are protected as a national heritage site in Iran and many tourists visit the village to experience their mighty presence.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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