Restoration efforts for ancient water reservoirs in Bagan Cultural Heritage Zone

Authorities have commenced maintenance works on ancient water reservoirs such as Shwehtee Pond and Swetaw Myotaw Pond in the Bagan Cultural Heritage Zone, according to the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (Bagan branch).
The reservoirs played a crucial role in the water distribution system of the Bagan Kingdom. Engineers are currently endeavouring to revitalize the distribution networks through dredging and cleaning operations in key locations, including Shwehtee Pond (located east of Bagan Hmyaw Pagoda), Swetaw Myotaw Pond (situated between Culamani and Dhammayangyi temples), and an unnamed pond (positioned south of the Anawrahta Road).
They will also elevate the embankments and reconnect the water routes. The maintenance works, including producing a topographic map, began on 24 January.
Likewise, efforts to elevate embankments, construct spillways, and dredge water canals have been undertaken at Alanpagan (Alanpya) Pond, Alel (Mayoe) Pond, and Nyunlettaphet Pond.
The three reservoirs can store up to 458 acre-feet of water. Plans are underway to renovate an additional 11 ancient reservoirs, as they can help prevent flooding of ancient religious buildings during heavy rain.
Director U Kyaw Myo Win of the department said: “Our studies show ancient Bagan people relied more on rainwater than the Ayeyawady River. They made ways for the water cascading from the MtPopa to flow into Mya Lake near the Tuyin Range. Then, the reservoirs, drains and spillways along the villages all the way to the royal moat indicate that ancient Bagan people utilized rainwater for social, agricultural, and religious needs.”
The department consulted with experts from Trent University in Canada over the Bagan-era water management system of Katat Pond and Nat Pond near the Tuyin Range. Additionally, officials collaborated with hydrologist Dr Massimo Sarti three times.
The department’s water network surveys date back to 2015. The experts conducted field studies and grading of reservoirs to cross-check the ancient water networks back in November 2023. — ASH/NT

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