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Historical flooding of the Pedieos River in Nicosia, Cyprus

Abstract

Rivers have been the backbone for the development of cities, yet they have also been the cause of destruction and human loss as they often flood the urban environments they cross. The ephemeral Pedieos River has been closely linked with the flourishing of the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, ever since the existence of a settlement in the area during the Archaic period (750–485 BC). However, flooding of the river has been the reason for the city’s inundation on several occasions as records since the 14th century show. This paper examines the historical flooding of urban Nicosia caused by the Pedieos River and the mitigation measures adopted throughout the city’s history. Gaining a historical perspective of Pedieos’ flooding provides valuable lessons with local and regional implications, as the case of Nicosia offers an instructive example for similar phenomena in the Mediterranean basin. Historical records showed prayers and other religious rituals as flood management measures in the 14th century, while technical measures such as stormwater drainage networks and dam construction prevailed in the 20th and 21st century. As flooding issues still persist and become more complex with the rapid development of the city, integrated planning and informed policy implementation that makes good use of the lessons of history can be of critical importance.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to acknowledge the support of the Cyprus State Archives in aiding our research and Piero d’Altan for the creation of maps presented in the paper. We are also very grateful for the suggestions and comments of two anonymous reviewers, which helped us to strengthen the paper. This research has received funding from the BeWater project (GA 612385), sponsored by European Union’s 7th Framework Program.

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Correspondence to Katerina Charalambous.

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Charalambous, K., Bruggeman, A., Bakirtzis, N. et al. Historical flooding of the Pedieos River in Nicosia, Cyprus. Water Hist 8, 191–207 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12685-016-0162-1

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Keywords

  • Flooding
  • Urban environment
  • Ephemeral River
  • Stormwater management
  • Urban planning