Colder Than A Well Digger’s Knee

One time during my stay in the middle east I came across an interesting scene. There were two men standing around a large wooden reel with a rope extending from the reel into a small hole in the ground. The reel was supported by posts so that it could be turned by 4 handles attached to each end of the reel. It was about 6 feet long and 4 feet in diameter.  The hole was about 2 feet in diameter and there was a large pile of dirt nearby. They were digging a well. After a while the rope started shaking and the two men started reeling up the rope. They turned and turned and a large amount of rope built up on the reel. Finally a man popped out of the hole. He had one pant leg rolled up above his knee and was covered with mud. Somehow he was able to stand on one leg at the bottom of a hole at least 200 feet deep and dig.

In this part of the world they use a unique system to get water. The geology is such that up in the mountains the water table is higher than it is down lower. So to get water for a village they go up in the mountains a dig a well down to the water. Then starting at the village they dig a tunnel to the bottom of the well. Water can then run out of the well and down to the village without any pumping. These tunnels are called quants. The quants are lined with oval shaped clay tiles that can be turned sideways and slid through each other. At the village the tunnel comes to the surface and the water runs through the village in a ditch, called a jube, along site the road. It is arranged so that each household (compound) can shunt the water into a pool in the compound to be used there. The upper class live at the upper end of the jube and progressively lower class further down the stream.

Incidentally, the expression  “Colder Than A Well Digger’s Knee” only got about 1100 hits in Google. I can sure see how it came about after seeing that man coming out of the ground.

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1 Response to Colder Than A Well Digger’s Knee

  1. Nick says:


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