The well-known deserts of Iran are at two major regions: Kavir-e Lut (Lut Desert) which is the largest pit inside the Iranian plateau and Dasht-e-Kavir, a geological pit almost at the north of Kavir-e-Lut.
Kavir-e Lut (Lut Desert) is the largest pit inside the Iranian plateau and one of the largest pits in the world. Broken layers of the earth formed it. The maximum annual rainfall is approximately 100 mm. The average altitude of this desert is almost 600m above sea level (ASL) and the lowest point near “khabis” is almost 300m ASL. In Kavir-e-Lut, large amounts of sand always move southward, forming sand hills and running sand masses.
Dasht-e-Kavir is a geological pit almost at the north of Kavir-e-Lut. The minimum altitude of this desert is 400 m ASL. The major part of Dasht-e-Kavir is covered with sand and pebbles and exposed to strong winds and storms that set salt-combined sand in motion like sea waves. At times, this phenomenon forms long sand hills of 40m high. The difference of temperature between days and nights during a year in Dasht-e-Kavir is between 0 and 70 degrees C. From a structural point of view, Dasht-e-Kavir is very different form Kavir-e-Lut.
Some of the ecological features of the deserts in Iran are strong sunshine, relatively little humidity, little rainfall and excessive vaporization. Temperature varies among the varying altitudes. The conditions in the desserts are so severe that they are intolerable year-around.
It rarely snow in Iran’s desserts. The annual relative humidity is below 30%. During summer, it decreases, at times, down to 0%. It usually rains in the winter and sometimes washes away the soil. Because of this, there is never a good enough balance of soil and water for plants to grow. Since these regions are always open to winds and there are not sufficient plants to preserve soil, wind erodes the earth. Therefore, wood-made walls are built and shrubs and trees are planted to prevent destruction from the wind.
It is water that determines what life is like in the deserts. It is water that helps plants grow. It is water that makes people stay in any one area within the desert. Water is not easily accessible in every area of the desserts. People and animals live in the areas where water can be found in springs or through the ancient technique of making underground aqueducts called kariz (Qanat). At times, semi-deep wells are dug to get water. Desert dwellers make the most of the minimum water they have. Local people use camels, highly tolerant animals, to travel through the desert. Usually vine or similar trees with deep going roots are planted so that they could survive.
Making a Living in the Deserts
People live only in oases in small scales and they rely on farming, herding animals and/or migrating. They plant food sources such as wheat, barley, and fruit trees. In some areas farms will not thrive, so people have to make a living just by herding cattle. When neither of the above is possible, they have to migrate to somewhere else in search of better living conditions.
Accommodation & Clothing
Homes are built of sundried brick, raw mud, and sometimes a limited quantity of stone. Walls are built very thick for the sake of insulation. Roofs are built in cupola or vaulted forms to last longer. People are usually dressed in bright colors and clothing is mostly made of cotton. Clothing is loose and long unless the people have been influenced by city dwellers’ culture. Although the Iranian plateau makes life very difficult, the inhabitants of the deserts are hard-working people that have struggled on four thousands of years.