In the context of the global water crisis, we seek an understanding of the histories of water management, their fashioning, and their legacy today. We juxtapose temporally diverse narratives to explore the premodern imaginings that have shaped our inheritance of hydrological thought. Rather than conceptualize their historical influence as a linear progression of ideas, from the primitive and magical giving way to modern religions and then to rational and empiricist sciences, we suggest a fluidity of hydrological thought whereby the sacred and the profane eddy and flow together over time. This article attempts to navigate these currents through an examination of how Western religious and scientific, spiritual and instrumentalist, worlds of water have together guided hydrological imaginings and interventions for more than two thousand years. It specifically analyzes the deployment of these imaginings to frame efforts to control water and waterscapes, as well as bodies and societies since antiquity. The interactions of these worlds of water have produced, we contend, a vast reservoir of influence upon water management in the twenty-first century.

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