Archaeologists Discover Ancient Air Conditioning

Slovakian archaeologists, working at the al-Kusur excavation site, in modern-day Kuwait, have uncovered a system of natural interior cooling, thought to date from the 7th-9th century.

The expedition from the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) Archaeological Institute used modern techniques to identify, excavate and document a 7th-8th century palace, which featured “advanced architecture”.

Buildings in the area are traditionally constructed from unfired bricks on stone foundations. This latest discovery, however, also features a stone tower and a system of canals. It has been inferred that the tower is likely to have acted as a so-called ‘windcatcher’, channelling air down into the building. The canal system may have then acted as an ancient form of air conditioning, chilling the air via evaporative cooling.

Director of the SAC Archaeological Institute Matej Ruttkay explained that energy efficient ventilation systems (featuring windcatcher towers) were once prevalent across much of Persia, the Middle East and North Africa.

For a modern view on how l history can help inform design of low energy ventilation in current architecture, speak to a specialist at Breathing Buildings.

This piece is adapted from a news article which originally appeared on the Slovak Spectator online 5th May 2016.