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See the 10 largest dams in the world

 Early dam building took place in Mesopotamia and the Middle East.  Dams were used to control water levels, for Mesopotamia's weather affected the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

 The earliest known dam is the Jawa Dam in Jordan, 100 kilometers (62 mi) northeast of the capital Amman.  This gravity dam featured an originally 9-metre-high (30 ft) and 1 m-wide (3.3 ft) stone wall, supported by a 50 m-wide (160 ft) earthen rampart.  The structure is dated to 3000 BC.[3][4]

 The Ancient Egyptian Sadd-el-Kafara Dam at Wadi Al-Garawi, about 25 km (16 mi) south of Cairo, was 102 m (335 ft) long at its base and 87 m (285 ft) wide.  The structure was built around 2800[5] or 2600 BC[6] as a diversion dam for flood control, but was destroyed by heavy rain during construction or shortly afterwards.[5][6]  During the Twelfth Dynasty in the 19th century BC, the Pharaohs Senosert III, Amenemhat III, and Amenemhat IV dug a canal 16 km (9.9 mi) long linking the Fayum Depression to the Nile in Middle Egypt.  Two dams called Ha-Uar running east-west were built to retain water during the annual flood and then release it to surrounding lands.  The lake called Mer-wer or Lake Moeris covered 1,700 km2 (660 sq mi) and is known today as Birket Qarun.[7]

 By the mid-late third millennium BC, an intricate water-management system in Dholavira in modern-day India was built.  The system included 16 reservoirs, dams and various channels for collecting water and storing it.[8]

 One of the engineering wonders of the ancient world was the Great Dam of Marib in Yemen.  Initiated sometime between 1750 and 1700 BC, it was made of packed earth – triangular in cross-section, 580 m (1,900 ft) in length and originally 4 m (13 ft) high – running between two groups of rocks on either side, to  which it was linked by substantial stonework.  Repairs were carried out during various periods, most importantly around 750 BC, and 250 years later the dam height was increased to 7 m (23 ft).  After the end of the Kingdom of Saba, the dam fell under the control of the Ḥimyarites (c. 115 BC) who undertook further improvements, creating a structure 14 m (46 ft) high, with five spillways, two masonry-reinforced sluices,  a settling pond, and a 1,000 m (3,300 ft) canal to a distribution tank.  These works were not finished until 325 AD when the dam permitted the irrigation of 25,000 acres (100 km2).

 Eflatun Pınar is a Hittite dam and spring temple near Konya, Turkey.  It is thought to date from the Hittite empire between the 15th and 13th centuries BC.

 The Kallanai is constructed of unhewn stone, over 300 m (980 ft) long, 4.5 m (15 ft) high and 20 m (66 ft) wide, across the main stream of the Kaveri River in Tamil Nadu, South India.  The basic structure dates to the 2nd century AD[9] and is considered one of the oldest water diversion or water regulating structures still in use.[10]  The purpose of the dam was to divert the waters of the Kaveri across the fertile delta region for irrigation via canals.

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Hunts Creek near the city of Parramatta, Australia, was dammed in the 1850s, to cater to the demand for water from the growing population of the city.  The masonry arch dam wall was designed by Lieutenant Percy Simpson who was influenced by the advances in dam engineering techniques made by the Royal Engineers in India.  The dam cost £17,000 and was completed in 1856 as the first engineered dam built in Australia, and the second arch dam in the world built to mathematical specifications.[30]

 The first such dam was opened two years earlier in France.  It was the first French arch dam of the industrial era, and it was built by François Zola in the municipality of Aix-en-Provence to improve the supply of water after the 1832 cholera outbreak devastated the area.  After royal approval was granted in 1844, the dam was constructed over the following decade.  Its construction was carried out on the basis of the mathematical results of scientific stress analysis.


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