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Steps to Water: A Discussion with Morna Livingston

Event organized by A/D/O

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The first theme of our Water Futures Program is “Harvesting the Sky.” We will begin this season with an in-depth presentation and discussion with Professor Morna Livingston, author of Steps to Water: The Ancient Stepwells of India.

From the 5th to the 19th centuries, the people of western India built stone cisterns to collect the water of the monsoon rains and keep it accessible for the remaining dry months of the year. These magnificent structures, known as stepwells or stepped ponds, are much more than utilitarian reservoirs. For the past 500 years, stepwells have been an integral part of western Indian communities as sites for drinking, washing, and bathing, as well as for colorful festivals and sacred rituals.

By reflecting on their current use, preservation, and place in Indian communities, Professor Livingston will examine how we might harness this knowledge to create accessible reservoirs of drinking water and better integrate ancient rituals into our current landscaping practice.