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Ice Houses of Iran

Hemming Jorgensen visited Iran to build roads but he was so fascinated by Iran’s ancient mud brick ice houses that he wrote a book about them.


The traditional Iranian ice houses, a marvel of engineering and architecture in ancient Iran, are usually mud brick domed buildings designed to protect ice from melting in the hot Iranian summer in particular in cities and villages on the edge of Iranian deserts. The height of these cone shaped domes were up to 20 meters. The ice was collected during the winter time from the mountain sides, open basins, or winter snow.  In some places, the ice houses were walled and underground structures. Some the ice houses were in operation for ice storage or selling ice until 1950’s when their function was taken over by ice factories and modern fridges and freezers. 


Hemming Jorgensen, a Danish civil engineer by profession came to Iran in 1964 to work on various infrastructure projects. He became intimately acquainted with Iran, its people and Persian language. He saw his first Iranian ice house in Kerman in 1966 when  he took a special interest in these mud brick ice houses. Later on he undertook his academic research which led to writing a PhD on the topic, and in 2010 he was awarded a doctorate by the University of Copenhagen - Institute for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies. He published the result of his research in a book published in English by Mazda publishing in the USA. In February 2015 his book won Iran’s Book of the Year Award for original research. He recently visited Iran to take part in the launch his book translated into Persian in Tehran where Hamid Reza Hosseini met and talked to him. Some of the photograph published in the video in this page have been taken from “the Ice Houses of Iran.”

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