A young Turkmen surveyor holding a level staff in 1975, during construction of the Karakum Canal, across the Karakum Desert. The level staff (aka ‘leveling rod’) is a graduated rod, used with a surveying or levelling instrument to determine distances and differences in height. Built between 1954 and 1988 under the Soviet administration, the Karakum Canal is one of the largest irrigation and water supply canals in the world.

(photo: © 1975 Novosti news agency, Moscow – personal collection)