The “Halep Arki” (Aleppo Channel), a Mamluk Era Water System for Aleppo

A Preliminary Report


  • Timur Demir Gaziantep University
  • Makbule Ekici Bulut Gaziantep University
  • Scott Redford SOAS, University of London



Halep Arkı, Qanat, Mamluk, Ottoman, Gaziantep, Oğuzeli


Due to its low rainfall and limited potential for water retention, northern Syria has always had access to and control of water as one of the main features of states in the region aiming to maintain their rule. This article introduces new information about the Mamluk period water adduction system of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, which brought water to the Quwayq River, the city’s most important source of water. A newly documented part of the system, known in the Gaziantep region of Türkiye as the “Halep Arki” (the Aleppo channel), is discussed along with Mamluk-era inscriptions associated with it. During archaeological survey conducted between 2016 and 2018 in the Oguzeli region of Türkiye’s Gaziantep province, an open-air channel connected to a qanat-like tunnel with vertical shafts was documented, in addition to two inscriptions carved into the bedrock where the open-air channel met the tunnel. These inscriptions, which have been damaged over the centuries, were documented using RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) technology, which allowed portions of one of them to be read. The survey showed that this Mamluk era water system was also used and expanded in the Ottoman period beginning with the conquest of the region in the 16th century. Spoil heaps show that the system was cleaned, likely during the Ottoman era. The closing of gaps in the bedrock that came about due to earthquakes or other reasons with stone walling may also have taken place in the Ottoman period. Also, in the Ottoman period, water from other springs was added to the system and various regulations on the use of water introduced. In this article, based on topographic and hydrological study of the region, we offer suggestions of the sources of the spring water that were joined to this system.

Author Biographies

  • Timur Demir, Gaziantep University

    Timur Demir is an Assistant Professor at Gaziantep University, Department of Archaeology. He was the scientific advisor of Yenice Höyük excavations in Gaziantep and vice president of Oğuzeli Survey. He is the vice president of Zincirli Höyük excavation and the president of Gerçin Höyük archaeology project. 

  • Makbule Ekici Bulut, Gaziantep University

    Makbule Ekici Bulut is an Assistant Professor at Gaziantep University, Department of Archaeology. She continues to work on the publication of the surveys completed in Oğuzeli District of Gaziantep Province.

  • Scott Redford , SOAS, University of London

    Scott Redford is Nasser D. Khalili Professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology at SOAS, University of London. He has edited and contributed to a recently published volume of essays on the site of Rumkale/Hromkla (Gaziantep, Türkiye) in the medieval to modern periods and is currently working on the final publication of Bilkent University excavations in medieval levels at Kinet/al-Tinat in Hatay province, Türkiye.


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How to Cite

Demir, T., Ekici Bulut, M., & Redford , S. (2024). The “Halep Arki” (Aleppo Channel), a Mamluk Era Water System for Aleppo: A Preliminary Report. Journal of Islamic Archaeology, 10(2), 135-144.