Iran’s Ancient Marvel: 1,000-Year-Old Vertical-Axis Windmills Embracing Timeless Wind Power

In the annals of ancient innovations that transcend time, the vertical-axis windmill stands as an iconic invention that endures to this day.

First conceived in 634 AD, these windmills were primarily employed for grinding grain and irrigation purposes. Among the oldest surviving windmills globally, one can be found in Nashtifan, Iran, situated approximately 30 kilometers from the Afghanistan border.

Historical records indicate that these vertical-axis windmills were constructed over 1,000 years ago by ancient Persian engineers. Compared to their modern counterparts, these structures exhibit an unconventional design, featuring a vertical axis and rectangular-shaped sails numbering between 6 to 12.

However, this primitive appearance represents the original form of the windmill, a testament to humanity’s initial discovery of harnessing limitless wind energy. The operational principle involves wind currents propelling the wooden blades, setting the main shaft in motion, consequently powering the grain milling mechanism. Thus, grains are ground into flour without requiring any human exertion.

Over time, this model proliferated and became prevalent across the Middle East and Central Asia, later spreading to China, India, and the rest of Europe.

Remarkably, despite being constructed from raw materials like straw, clay, wood, and more, these windmills have remarkably endured the test of time.

Even after more than a millennium, albeit not in optimal conditions, they continue to be utilized for milling grains into flour.

In 2002, Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization designated these windmills as one of the nation’s significant historical and touristic landmarks, highlighting their immense cultural and historical importance.


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