Made of natural clay, straw, and wood, the windmills have been milling grain for flour for an estimated 1,000 years. The vertical axis design is probably similar to the windmills that were invented by the Persians around 500 C.E.—a design that slowly spread through the world and which was later adapted by the Dutch and others.
Nashtifan’s original name was Nish Toofan, meaning ‘storm’s sting,’ a reference to the strong winds that blow through the area:
Though it’s recognized as a national heritage site, the ancient technology is tended to by only one person, Haj Ali Mohammad Etebari, an elderly custodian with no apprentices. He’s featured in the National Geographic vid above, as well as this documentary short by the International Wood Culture Society: The Old Windmill.Watch more videos: The physics & engineering of windmills in The Netherlands and Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba story.