The traditional Persian ice houses were built at villages on the perimeter of the large deserts on the Central Plateau. Their cone-shaped domes, up to 20 meters high, consisted of mud and mud bricks from the excavation of the deep ice pits protected by the domes. The ice houses served as reservoirs that stored blocks of ice in the winter for further use in the summer. The ice was either hauled in from nearby mountains or produced in open basins at the ice house site. Such local ice production plants were typically supplied with fresh water from qanats, the ingenious water supply tunnels, that brought water for human settlements and irrigation from the distant mountains.

The ice houses, whose origin is believed to go back more than 2000 years, gradually became obsolete with the advent of electricity and the introduction of the refrigerators to the households. Because they were made of perishable materials, most of the ice houses have disappeared and the rest are facing a grim future.

In this book, Dr. Jorgensen, has made a remarkable effort in cataloguing still remaining ice houses and in the process has found other ice houses that are shaped differently. He has developed a typology, described and analyzed the layouts, shapes, dimensions, construction methods, materials, reinforcements, and decorations. He has also studied the operations and origins, and analyzed the preservation aspects.
“Your study is probably the first in the world about the Iranian ice houses.”
—Ehsan Yarshater,
Columbia University

“There is no comprehensive study of ice houses… until yours.”
—Rémy Boucharlat,
Professor, Lyon France

“It is a goldmine of information and it has saved the ‘yakhchal’ from oblivion.
—Willem Floor,
Senior Researcher

“The University of Copenhagen is proud of having hosted a project experiencing such a great success,”
—Ingolf Thuesen,
Department Director

Ice Houses of Iran
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