Water clearly has a special place amongst the many relationships which exist between man and nature. It is a permanent and essential human need. Access to water is a vital element common to all human civilisations; there are no exceptions, meaning that all civilisations have a water culture. In the course of history, this has led to a wide variety of tangible and social expressions, which we may consider to be one of the fundamental heritages of humanity.
The aim of the approach adopted for this thematic study is to provide assistance for recognising, studying and preserving heritage of this type. For this initial study, ICOMOS has chosen to focus on the region of the Middle East and the Maghreb, inside the general framework of water rarity.
The thematic study proposes a typological inventory which should primarily be seen as a methodological aid for anyone wishing to consider the above-mentioned aspects, either with a view to achieving recognition and protection of such heritages by the World Heritage List or to protecting heritage in a national context.
A second edition is foreseen at a later stage which would complete the overall picture with some additional contributions.