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Roman aqueduct

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The multiple arches of the Pont du Gard in Roman Gaul (modern-day southern France). The upper tier encloses an aqueduct that carried water to Nimes in Roman times; its lower tier was expanded in the 1740s to carry a wide road across the river.
The multiple arches of the Pont du Gard in Roman Gaul (modern-day southern France). The upper tier encloses an aqueduct that carried water to Nimes in Roman times; its lower tier was expanded in the 1740s to carry a wide road across the river.
Aerial footage of a Roman provincial aqueduct at Mória (Lesbos)

The Romans constructed aqueducts throughout their Empire, to bring water from outside sources into cities and towns. Aqueduct water supplied public baths, latrines, fountains, and private households; it also supported mining operations, milling, farms, and gardens.

Aqueducts moved water through gravity alone, along a slight overall downward gradient within conduits of stone, brick, or concrete; the steeper the gradient, the faster the flow. Most conduits were buried beneath the ground and followed the contours of the terrain; obstructing peaks were circumvented or, less often, tunneled through. Where valleys or lowlands intervened, the conduit was carried on bridgework, or its contents fed into high-pressure lead, ceramic, or stone pipes and siphoned across. Most aqueduct systems included sedimentation tanks, which helped reduce any water-borne debris. Sluices and castella aquae (distribution tanks) regulated the supply to individual destinations. In cities and towns, the run-off water from aqueducts scoured the drains and sewers.

Rome's first aqueduct was built in 312 BC, and supplied a water fountain at the city's cattle market. By the 3rd century AD, the city had eleven aqueducts, sustaining a population of over a million in a water-extravagant economy; most of the water supplied the city's many public baths. Cities and towns throughout the Roman Empire emulated this model, and funded aqueducts as objects of public interest and civic pride, "an expensive yet necessary luxury to which all could, and did, aspire".[1]

Most Roman aqueducts proved reliable and durable; some were maintained into the early modern era, and a few are still partly in use. Methods of aqueduct surveying and construction are noted by Vitruvius in his work De Architectura (1st century BC). The general Frontinus gives more detail in his official report on the problems, uses and abuses of Imperial Rome's public water supply. Notable examples of aqueduct architecture include the supporting piers of the Aqueduct of Segovia, and the aqueduct-fed cisterns of Constantinople.

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Ambition... Conquest Lost... Murder... and the power of unrivaled technology. These are the cornerstones in the foundation of the Roman Empire. They were driven by a kind of collective cultural ego. Roman's colossal building projects: Stadiums... Palaces... Roads... Aquaducts... span 3 continents and unleash the power and promise of the world's most advanced civilizations. These structures became symbols of that idea of Rome. But while Romans dominated the landscape with their massive feats of construction, they were ultimately powerless to prevent their own self-destruction. March 15th, 44 BC. The most powerful man in the world lay lifeless on the floor of the Roman Senate. As a General he nearly doubled the size of the Roman Empire. As a Politician he engineered a stunning rise to power but now this battled-scarred warrior had been slayed in Rome and by Romans. His name was Gaius Julius Caesar. Caesar's rise to power was predicated on him wanting to have the best standing in the Roman State. He seemed to want too much power for himself. He didn't want to share power with others and this is what led directly to his assassination. Decades earlier as an ambitious young general, Caesar had recognized that the road to glory in Rome began on battlefields far from it. His thirst for military conquest would spawn construction of one of Rome's most intimidating feats of engineering. 55 BC Julius Caesar is leading 8 Roman legions. A total of 40,000 men north through Gaul. A Roman Providence encompassing modern France, Belgium and Switzerland. He wants to go to Germania, to Germany, and cross the Rhine because no Roman Commander has yet done so. He wants to be as great a conqueror as Alexander the Great. Go beyond what is known. The Rhine River lies on the edge of what is known. For centuries it has been a buffer protecting Germanic tribes from Roman expansion. No previous army could cross it with the might needed for conquest. But Caesar is unlike any previous warrior. He could have gone by boat but what is that for Julius Caesar to go by boat. A row boat? you know Are you going to put 8 legions on a row boat & go across? No, man! They need to march across. They need to be on horseback. From the engineering point of view, the difficulties of constructing a bridge over such a river are enormous in relationship to the depth of the water and the forceful current. If you bare in mind that this had to be done in a short period of time due to military needs. The works is actually truly exceptional. The bridge would need to be four football fields long and sustain 40,000 soldiers. Despite the Rhine's width, depth and strong currents, Julius Caeser is determined to succeed. To cross a river that size with a bridge is something which plays well with an audience back at home but of course it's something that plays extremely well with the audience standing on the other side of (across) the river who are going to be awestruck when they see this happening. With the speed and efficiency of a well oiled machine, Caesar's soldiers methodically transformed local timber into an expanding bridge. With every hour an engineering miracle inches closer to the Rhine's elusive northern bank. It's almost as if a spaceship, nowadays, the size, let's say, of half of Manhattan capable of some magnetic device that will lift buildings up in the air. That would be a pretty frightening thing. Something that we couldn't really grasp at all. The foundation of the bridge was a series of wooden piles driven into the bedrock of the river. Each pile was a foot and a half thick. Towards the middle of the bridge, they had to be up to 30 feet tall to reach from the surface to the bottom. By driven the piles in diagonally, Caesar's engineers had added extra stability to the bridge. When they drove the pilings in at an angle and connected them, in many ways they are doing what carpenters do when they are building a sawhorse. With the legs angled it utilizes forces to keep from being pushed over making it a stable work space. The sloping power offers a lot more strength against the force of the river and the flooding of the river but it's much more difficult to drive them into the riverbed than it is to drive a vertical pile. They would have had to work very carefully with wooden frames to push them into the riverbed. On the upstream side, the piles leaned in the direction of the current. 40 feet downstream the corresponding piles leaned against the current. Each set of piles were joined by a long connecting beam two feet thick. Lengths of timber were then laid against the beams and the surface was finished with tightly wrapped bundles of sticks. The design of the bridge was innovative but what made this engineering feat even more astounding is the speed in which it was built. Just 10 days after ordering it's construction Caesar marched across his bridge and toward his destiny. If we tried to do that today, we would never be able to build something like that in so few days with that kind of technology. We could match that feat today if we had thousands of loyal, sweating soldiers totally dedicated to Caesar and the objective of crossing the Rhine River to terrorize the Germans. Caesar had estimated the size of the Germanic forces at 430,000. More than 10 times the size of his army. When the Germans saw the Romans legions rolling over the Rhine, they quickly fled to higher ground. For the next 18 days, Caesar freely explored the territory north of the Rhine encountering no resistance. Then he crossed back over his bridge & dismantled it having made an unmistakeable point. It is symbolic of this that Rome can go anywhere. And to take it even further Julius Caesar can go anywhere. Caesar's bridge was an early indication of his single-minded ambition propelled him to unparallel power but would also prove to be his downfall. A decade later that ambition would When he was declared Rome's first dictator for life at the age of 55 in 44 BC whispers of assassination began to whisper through the halls of the Roman senate. He makes certain moves that suggest that he might want to be worshiped as a god that his ambition goes so far beyond the limits of what the Romans themselves and particular Roman Senators that he was assassinated. In life, Julius Caesar forever altere Rome's political landscape. In death, he would in body both the potential and the peril of absolute power. When Caesar was assassinated there was no guarantee that anything would happen except that Rome would fall apart completely. This assassination caused an enormous shock & naturally caused a great uprising among the people as well. Caesar's rein was a major turning point in Rome's political history. His conquest of Gaul greatly expanded the reach of the Roman influence. His consolation of power marked the death of the Roman republic ruled by democratically elected Senators and consuls. And the birth of an empire in which tyrannical empires could rule with absolute authority. Some would use their power to build magnificent engineering marvels. The vanity and excess of others would push them empire on the brink of destruction. Through it all Rome would grow to the most powerful and advanced civilization the world had ever seen. Today Rome is a 21st century city where the ancient and modern collide. From Rome we can learn everything, everything because Rome was the "set", let's call it, of the history of the world for at least 1,000 years. Rome is the center of an immense empire which began in Britannia and stretched to Armenia and then to Africa and to Germany. It was an extraordinary empire. Roman legend says the city was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus, 2 brothers that were abandoned as infants and raised by a she-wolf. The 2 brothers set out to build their own city on the banks of the Tiber River but a disagreement as to who would rule it ended in murder. Remus was killed at the hands of Romulus who whom the City of Rome is named. It would not be the last time that bloodshed produced a new Roman ruler. Civil War is actually one of the defining features of the growth of the Roman The story, the tradition, of Romulus and Remus is one that reverberates and echos throughout Roman history. Initially, Rome was one of countless small kingdoms jockeying for power in central Italy but unlike many of it's neighbors who were suspicious of outsiders, Rome was a safe haven for ambitious outcasts. Romulus said that given we don't have a population, I'll create an asylum, I will create a sort-of a free-zone for anybody: runaway slaves, pirates, whomever, come and be part of this great idea called "Rome" which is a very unique attitude and said from the very begining it seemed that the Romans were very open. This openness encouraged a free exchange of ideas that were engineering theories imported from other cultures. By borrowing the technology of others like the Etruscans, Rome expanded into a regional power. The Romans had an extraordinary ability to take from technological past and adapt it to their own purposes and refine it -- to improve upon it. They were able to take from the Etruscans the technology of road building and moving water systems through tunnels of building large extraordinary walls and produce something that was based on Etruscan technology. The city's first major engineering achievement was the Cloaca Maxima -- an extensive sewer system that still functions today 2,500 years after it was constructed. The Cloaca Maxima flushed run-off from Rome's city streets into the Tiber River. Engineers also used the underground pipeline to drain the marsh land between Rome's hilltop villages. There they build the "forum", Ancient Rome's hometown district. The construction of the Cloaca Maxima is the key event in transforming Rome from a series of tribes living on desperate hills around a swampy marsh into a centralized, unified culture. The new Roman forum that resulted from the draining of the Cloaca Maxima really allowed that culture to consolidate in one central place. While Rome's culture was consolidating the influence the city had over it's neighbors began to grow. By the 4th century BC, Roman controlled most of central Italy. And it's engineers were called on to develop a transportation infrastructure that would connect the expanding empire. In antiquity there were basically to modes of transportation through the countryside. Either on horseback or walking or in carts or by ships. Roads as we understand them today didn't exist before the Roman Empire. That all changed in 312 BC when the Via Appia was built. Rome's first national highway stretched 132 miles from it's capitol to it's southern province of Compania. To plot the straightest and fastest route down the coast, Roman engineers used a specialized surveying instrument. The Roman's relied on the tool called a "Groma" which was a vertical pole that stood in the ground with across on the top and you could sight along this cross to line up two points in a straight line. The big difference with Roman roads and modern roads is that the Roman's couldn't survey a corner so they were all dead straight then they would turn a sharp angle then go dead straight in another direction. The challenge, of course, will building a dead-straight road in any direction is that you come to hills and valleys and you had to cross them. So, if they had to, then they'd cut straight through the mountains in order to take the road straight through. Once the ideal path was cleared, a broad trench was dug and filled in with sand and boulders to form a solid foundation. Next, went a layer of gravel compacted with clay or mortar. The top surface was a layer of thick paveling stones angled to allow the water to drain off the side. For the first time, a stable paving was made. It was a paving that could stand the "test of time". It could withstand the frequent travel of wagons as wellas subsequently, that of all the armies. The roads were incredibly intimidating. You could look at a road and think,"I wonder how long it would take a couple of legions, 10,000 guys, down this road and into my backyard. I think I'll think twice before I start any nonsense with Rome. By the time of Julius Casesar in 44 BC, Rome controlled most of western Europe and north Africa. It had defeated Carthage a century earlier making it the Mediterranean world's-lone super power. Caesar's eventual successor was his great nephew Octavian who was renamed Augustus & crowned Rome's first "imperator" or "emperor". Under Augustus the Roman road network expanded to reach the furthest corner of the empire and with the highways paved it was time to build new destinations. Under Augustus we can we popping up everywhere was Roman style cities equipped with forum, a theater, with an amp-theater with a basilica and all of the other markers of what made a Roman city. To the recently conquered natives of the provinces, the new cities were a powerful endorsement of the Roman way of life. People flocked to the new cities -- these urban centers which were symbols of civilization, higher standard of living, incredible jobs, and that is where the money resided and with today people will go where the jobs are. Ultimately the people within these conquered nations would really embrace these Roman ideas. The Rome City itself was the greatest image creating device, I believe, that the Roman's had & those cities survive today: London, Baunei, Paris are all testimates to Roman's expansion of it's culture through its cities. Roman's engineers had a secret weapon that enabled them to build bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else. Waterproof concrete mixed with a volcanic sand called "Pozzollana". Early concretes were just a simple lime-water mix which although they would set, they weren't very strong and indeed the particles in the early concrete could easily break apart but in Roman concrete the pozzollana sand reacted with the lime and it makes a concrete quite like a modern concrete. Much, much stronger. The mortar of the hydraulic type, instead of the air-intrined mortar which was formally used introduced a material which possessed an enormous about of resistance. It could sit in water, as well, it was durable and proved itself the fundamental element in the development of Roman architecture. During the age of Augustus, this concrete solidified Rome's "choke hold" on Western Europe allowing Roman builders to dominate the landscape with massive man-made mono-lifts. One in particular would revolutionize daily life in Rome for centuries to come. By the 1st century AD, Rome had emerged as Europe's sole-super-power. And as the Roman's expanded their empire outward, they also looked inward and used their superior engineering skills to improve their quality of life within the walls of the capitol city. Of all the achievements of Rome's engineers, none were as life altering as running water. Rome's system of water distribution was a quantum leap to anything which had come before it. In the capitol city, 11 aqueduct lines guided a steady stream of fresh water to its citizen carrying a combined 200,000,000 gallons a day into the city from mountain springs miles away. What the aqueducts did was really revolutionize the daily life of Roman citizens, not just the gardens and the villas of the wealthy or the palaces of the empires, but the average Roman. So much water was available in the city of Rome, and this sustained an enormous population. The aqueducts fostered a growth of a new urban culture with a constant stream of water. Up to a 1,000,000 people were able to live cleanly and comfortably in the capitol city. As the water from the aqueducts which can flush out the human filth and keep your city clean. This is another reason why the Roman's think they are superior because they are cleaner than everyone else. No single emperor can claim credit for the success of the aqueducts. They were built over the course of several centuries. But it was the disfigured, stuttering emperor Claudius who arguably had the greatest impact on Rome's water supply. Before he assumed power, Claudius had been royal "laughing stock" who was considered an "invalid" and even hidden from the public eye. Well he had an awkward gait. He constantly moved his head and his laughter was excessive and he was not very graceful and above all, he also had a problem with salivation and such, possibly making him look quite unpleasant. In spite, of his short-comings, Claudius was cunning enough to seize power when and unlikely opportunity presented itself. In 41 AD, most of the royal family was murdered to avenge the bloody rein of Claudius' nephew, Caligula. But Claudius was spared after he was found cowaring behind a curtain. With his life hanging in the balance, he managed to bribe Rome's Praetorian guards into proclaiming him "emperor". His bribe would change the course of Roman history. Once he became emperor, he seemed to have ruled in many ways, by our standards, well. He clearly was not a stupid man. During the rein of Claudius the emperior took several surprising steps forward. On the frontier his legions conquered Britannia. Something that even Julius Caesar failed to do. And back home he built to major aqueducts. The "Aqua Claudia" and the "Anne Novias" which dramatically increased the amount of water following into Rome. Aqueducts are not that complicated in theory, that is water seeks it's lowest level and therefor that you can run water from a slope in any area to another area. So, that is a pretty simple premise that everyone would have known but the practice of creating an aqueduct is another thing. The Romans engineered their aqueducts to approach the city on a gradual declining angle or "gradient". That gradient was just inches every 100 feet. The slope of the aqueduct had to be calculated from great distances of 20, 30 sometimes even 40 miles from the source in the mountains to the city themselves that had to be consistent, they couldn't deviate from it regardless of what the terrain was. Now, to maintain the water's decent through high mountains, Roman engineers dug perfectly angled tunnels through them. When the pipeline reached low valleys, they were elevated on stone walls. If the walls needs to be higher than 6 1/2 feet off the ground, the Romans saved building materials while still adding strength by perfecting an ancient building concept: "The Arch". The arch revolutionized architecture in the ancient world by permitting far greater spans than allowable before. They basically changed the spatial conception totally of Roman architecture. Arches were built around a temporary wooden framework that held each stone in place until the keystone was laid int he center. The keystone evenly distributed down each side of the arch allowing builders to stack additional stones above it. Arches are an improvement on building just a straight wall in a variety of means both in their efficiency, their strength. The arch, of course, takes much less material to build. Arches are very strong in supporting things like roofs and aqueducts and whatever you wanted to build on top of them. 6 mile column of arches carried the Aqua Claudia across the valleys on it's way to Rome. The aqueduct would have had a covered roof, of course, if you could take the roof off, you could see the water like a river coming towards the city. After reaching the city, each aqueduct emptied into 3 holding tanks. 1 for the public drinking fountains, a 2nd for the public bath and a 3rd reserved for the emperor and other wealthy Romans who paid for their own running water -- a concept that was well ahead of its time. Basically, every home by the 1st or 2nd century AD of any means had running water. This is astounding because the entire span of the Middle Ages didn't have this! With the construction of the Aqua Claudia and the Anne Novias, Emperor Claudius had revitalized Rome's system of water distribution. His public records was one of success but the choices he made in his private life would ultimately lead to his downfall. The tradition of Claudius was he was uxorious, that he loved his women and his wives in particular too much and was subservient to them. He sent shockwaves through the empire when he married his own niece, Agrippina, the conniving sister of Caligula. Agrippina came from a line of ambitious and popular and powerful women. She was in some ways the Cleopatra of her age. She was headstrong, proud and ambitious. She was terribly ambitious. After having been surrounded by emperors her whole life, Agrippina was "hungry" for her own taste of power. She used all of her physical and political charm to obtain it. And once the aging Claudius was under her spell, she used her only son as a means to only perpetuate it. Agrippina's main intent in seducing Claudius to become Emporeress was to ensure her son would exceed to the throne. In 50 AD, Agrippina had convinced Claudius to name her son from a previous marriage as his heir instead of his own biological son. 4 years later, Emperor Claudius was dead. Poisoned by a mushroom and his wife's ambition. Overnight, Agrippina had gone from being the wife of 1 emperor to the mother of another. His name was "Nero", a 16 year old tyrant in training who would engineer disaster! 64 AD, a small fire spreads to a week long inferno that reduces huge swamps of Rome into ashes and leaves thousands homeless and walking the streets. The fire of 64... The fire of Rome was "something".. It was an enormous fire. The fire burned almost 3/4's of the city and since the entire city was comprised of houses, particularly of the poor and was built with a lot of wood, everything went up in smoke. Number one on the list of arson suspects is the emperor himself. Nero was supposedly seen playing his lyre at the top of a nearby tower as the fire raged. He said to have looked at the fire as if it was a spectacle and to have gone to the tower of maecenas and recited the fall of Troy. The tradition is that Nero was fiddling while Rome burned. His actions after the blaze were just as incriminating. Nero confiscated a third of the charred city as his own personal property and set out to build the empire's most extravagant monument to self-indulgence-- a palace complex covering 200 acres of downtown Rome. Rumor starts to spread that he had set the fire intentionally so as to clear a portion of the city where he could build his palace. Nero blamed the fire on his new religious cult called the Christians and had hundreds of them strung and burned to death in the streets of Rome. This was just the latest in a string of horrifying acts that solidified Nero's dysfunctional legacy. He served up the head of one of his ex-wives to his new wife as a present on her request. And then later kicked her to death when she was pregnant in a fit of rage. Most of the acts for which Nero is infamous come after one of the most heinous acts one can commit-- the killing of one's own mother. Agrippina, who had orchestrated Nero's rise to power by killing her husband Claudius, was antiquity's most overbearing mother. She expected to share power equally with her son. He decided to eliminate his mother. He tried several ways. The first time he to poison her 3 times but she had taken some potent antidotes and was able to survive. Shortly there after he was watching a nomockia which is a navel show where sea battles were reenacted and ships were sunk. It was there he became inspired. He had the idea of using one of those ships to facilitate his plan. So he rigged a ship which picked up Agrippina and ported her to the bay. Then at precisely the right time, the ship sank but even this wasn't enough to silence this lady. This virago, if you will, because Agrippina managed to swim to safety. Eventually Nero was forced to send some of his hired assassins to kill her. It was at that point, he got rid of her once and for all. As they closed in Agrippina ordered the guard to stab her in the womb. She said, "Strike here first, this bore Nero." Very dramatic! Nero was haunted by visions of his mother's ghosts for the rest of his life. Visions which pushed him further into madness. Nero as time goes on becomes more and more lonely and perhaps more and more paranoid and more and more cruel. It was in the midst of his deepening delusions that Nero began building the empire's most lavish "pleasure palace"on public land and with public money. You'd have to imagine the whole essential park has transformed into Bill Gates personal estate and "pleasure palace". And this is in the part of the city where the rich and the affluent and the people who once had their homes. It was shocking. Nero bled the provinces dry to get money for that. And also in Rome he demanded money from the rich.They had to bequeath him their money and that they would be "offed". It must have been a very scary time to be alive. Nero's golden house was built on the pain and sweat of forced labor. In Ancient Rome, slavery was a common and acceptable practice. 1 in every 3 people was a slave. Rome's achievements would be unthinkable without slave labor. This slave labor was part of what generated the funds necessary to maintain and expand an emperor. There is no question that slave labor was also very significant for the building of these grand projects that really defined the essence of imperial Rome. Nero's new palace would reflect his god-like perception of himself. It was designed to evoke a sprawling seaside villa in the heart of the city. Vineyards, gardens and pastures for wild animals would cover what was Rome's downtown crossroads. The center of the complex would be a man-made lake and pavillon with covered walkways a mile long. A vast 150 room wing of that pavilion still survives today bared beneath modern Rome. It's cavernous interior demonstrations mastery of another engineering innovation- The vaulted ceiling. A "vault" is nothing more or less than an arch which has been extended along an axis. Once you've built that framing one time, move that framing, build another, move the framing, you have a long vault -- very efficient way to build for Romans. When the Domus Aurea was completed after just 4 years, Emperor Nero said, "Finally I can live in a house worth of a human-being." The surviving remnant is a dank shell of the decadent palace he inhabited. These brick and concrete chambers were once trimmed in gold and covered in with colorful frescoes and priceless gems. There were semi-precious and precious gems embedded in the ceiling so there is lapis lazuli and rock crystal that was just put up to catch the light. And in building the Domus Aurea, Nero is showing that he is not like good emperors -- generous with his personal resources and I think that this is one of the things that leads to his downfall. His behavior was so far off the scale in terms of senators and people in Rome expected out of their emperor that I think he ultimately paid the price. In 68 AD, just months after he moved into the Domus Aurea, Nero was overthrown by a tide wave of opposition. He was declared a "public enemy"by the senate and hunted like a fugitive by his own guards. As they closed in on him, Nero slit his throat with the help of a loyal slave. His last words were, "what an artist dies in me." Nero died like the grand eloquent actor he always wanted to be. A tragic actor upon a tragic stage. So, his final words really do complete a picture of someone who saw them self not as an emperor but as a star. After Nero's death, the Roman's sought to bury any memory of him and his oppressive rein. By 104 AD, his golden house was filled in and covered with dirt and rubble. It would form the foundation of a bath complex built above it by the Emperor Trajan. For the next 1,300 years it lay buried and forgotten beneath a changing city. Then in 1500 a sinkhole led explorers into the belly of the ancient beast. Inside renaissance artists drew inspiration from its bizarre frescoes. The very word "grotesque" that we use today is actually an artistic term that is used to describe these strange creatures that they saw down there that were part human, part beast, part architecture, part decoration. The Domus Aurea is an enduring testiment to Nero's chilling rein. One marred by mass murder and extreme self-indulgence. When that rein ended the Roman Empire faced an uncertain future. Every emperor from Julius Caesar to Nero had been a descendant from a single bloodline. Now for the first time, rule of the emperor was left up for grabs. No one was sure what was going to happen next except that it was going to be bloody and it wasn't going to be very good until it was over. 69 AD Emperor Nero lay dead. Killed by his own hand. For the first time since the murder of Julius Caesar, Rome is left without an heir to the throne. A power struggle erupts between the emperor's top general's who turn their armies on each other in a bloody bid for power. The ultimate victor is Vespasian -- a simple straight-talking General who commanded legions in the volitale outpost of Jedidiah. He is not of royal blood and he is nothing like is tyrannical predecessor. Vespasian was the anti-hero. He was as different from Nero as one could get. He had come up 'through the ranks and he was a practical hard-bidden man who was averse to pretension and proud of it. Vespasian is the kind of guy that would much rather watch a football game than go to the opera. Unlike Nero who exploited the skills of engineers for his own colossal vanity projects. Vespasian would put Rome's greatest architectural minds to work for the people. He would start by draining the massive lake that Nero had built on his palace grounds. On that site would rise Rome's most famous engineering marvels. A place where all the chaos that consumed the city could be channeled. It would be called the "Flavian Amphitheater" or as we know it, "The Colosseum". So the statement that Vespasian made was I am taking a space which is only for the private space for a bad emperor and now I am transforming an area into a public space which would then be used for the enjoyment of all the people of Rome. So that was a very bold piece of propaganda. Gladiators have been spilling blood in the name of entertainment for centuries but the people of Rome were hungry for bigger, bolder spectacles. The Colloseum would give the gladiators a state of the art killing field and the games would take on a level of carnage never before seen in history. This was the big venue.. the entertainment came to you. Everything from animals from the furthest corners of the known world to captives from far away lands could be brought to a central location, to your favorite box seat and right in the center of the city. It's undoubtedly the biggest amphitheater in the world. An exceptional monument for its dimensions. It's also exceptional for the organization of the work in which it was built. Construction on the Colosseum began in 72 AD. It was financed by the sale of precious relics taken from the Jewish Temple during the Vespasian sacking of Jerusalem. 12,000 Jewish captives were brought back from that campaign to build the amphitheater. They would have worked under tremendously harsh conditions and would have been worked long and hard and to the end. They poured more than 6,000 tons of concrete and hauled huge travertine building blocks to the site from a quarry 20 miles away. As the building progressed up higher they would use less of the strong and expensive limestone and more of the cheaper ingredients that were lighter in weight. The Romans had quite the sophisticated wooden cranes and devices for lifting up the stones and they would be able to do that quite easily from the ground and up to great heights. In just 8 years, the imposing structure grew to 160 feet tall dwarfing all that surrounded it. It's the tallest ancient Roman structure ever built. This is the amphitheater of the capitol. So, what was Rome? Rome was a city that was so much larger than any other city. So much richer. So, that came to symbolize the power, engineering, the wealth of Ancient Rome. Roman amphitheaters were constructed from a surprisingly simple framework incorporating 2 Greek theaters back to back to form one 360 degree theater in the round.



"The extraordinary greatness of the Roman Empire manifests itself above all in three things: the aqueducts, the paved roads, and the construction of the drains."

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities[2]

Before the development of aqueduct technology, Romans, like most of their contemporaries in the ancient world, relied on local water sources such as springs and streams, supplemented by groundwater from privately or publicly owned wells, and by seasonal rain-water drained from rooftops into storage jars and cisterns.[3] The reliance of ancient communities upon such water resources restricted their potential growth. Rome's aqueducts were not strictly Roman inventions – their engineers would have been familiar with the water-management technologies of Rome's Etruscan and Greek allies – but they proved conspicuously successful. By the early Imperial era, the city's aqueducts supported a population of over a million, and an extravagant water supply for public amenities had become a fundamental part of Roman life.[4] The run-off of aqueduct water scoured the sewers of cities and towns. Water from aqueducts was also used to supply villas, ornamental urban and suburban gardens, market gardens, farms, and agricultural estates, the latter being the core of Rome's economy and wealth.[5]

Rome's Aqueducts

Map of Rome's aqueducts
Map of Rome's aqueducts
Large scale map showing sources
Large scale map showing sources

Rome had several springs within its perimeter walls but its groundwater was notoriously unpalatable; water from the river Tiber was badly affected by pollution and waterborne diseases. The city's demand for water had probably long exceeded its local supplies by 312 BC, when the city's first aqueduct, the Aqua Appia, was commissioned by the censor Appius Claudius Caecus. The Aqua Appia was one of two major public projects of the time; the other was a military road between Rome and Capua, the first leg of the so-called Appian Way. Both projects had significant strategic value, as the Third Samnite War had been under way for some thirty years by that point. The road allowed rapid troop movements; and by design or fortunate coincidence, most of the Aqua Appia ran within a buried conduit, relatively secure from attack. It was fed by a spring 16.4 km from Rome, and dropped 10 metres over its length to discharge approximately 75,500 cubic metres of water each day into a fountain at Rome's cattle market, the Forum Boarium, one of the city's lowest-lying public spaces.[6]

A second aqueduct, the Aqua Anio Vetus, was commissioned some forty years later, funded by treasures seized from Pyrrhus of Epirus. Its flow was more than twice that of the Aqua Appia, and it entered the city on raised arches, supplying water to higher elevations of the city.[7]

By 145 BC, the city had again outgrown its combined supplies. An official commission found the aqueduct conduits decayed, their water depleted by leakage and illegal tapping. The praetor Quintus Marcius Rex restored them, and introduced a third, "more wholesome" supply, the Aqua Marcia, Rome's longest aqueduct and high enough to supply the Capitoline Hill. The works cost 180,000,000 sesterces, and took two years to complete.[8] As demand grew still further, more aqueducts were built, including the Aqua Tepula in 127 BC and the Aqua Julia in 33 BC. Aqueduct-building programmes reached a peak in the Imperial Era. Augustus' reign saw the building of the Aqua Virgo, and the short Aqua Alsietina that supplied Trastevere's artificial lake with water for staged sea-fights to entertain the populace. Another short Augustan aqueduct supplemented the Aqua Marcia with water of "excellent quality".[9] The emperor Caligula added or began two aqueducts completed by his successor Claudius; the 69 km (42.8 mile) Aqua Claudia, which gave good quality water but failed on several occasions; and the Anio Novus, highest of all Rome's aqueducts and one of the most reliable but prone to muddy, discoloured waters, particularly after rain, despite its use of settling tanks.[10]

Most of Rome's aqueducts drew on various springs in the valley and highlands of the Anio, the modern river Aniene, east of the Tiber. A complex system of aqueduct junctions, tributary feeds and distribution tanks supplied every part of the city.[11] Trastevere, the city region west of the Tiber, was primarily served by extensions of several of the city's eastern aqueducts, carried across the river by lead pipes buried in the roadbed of the river bridges, thus forming an inverted siphon.[12] Whenever this cross-river supply had to be shut down for routine repair and maintenance works, the "positively unwholesome" waters of the Aqua Alsietina were used to supply Trastevere's public fountains.[9] The situation was finally ameliorated when the emperor Trajan built the Aqua Traiana in 109 AD, bringing clean water directly to Trastavere from aquifers around Lake Bracciano.[13]

By the late 3rd century AD, the city was supplied with water by 11 state-funded aqueducts. Their combined conduit length is estimated between 780 and a little over 800 kilometres, of which approximately 47 km (29 mi) were carried above ground level, on masonry supports. They supplied around 1 million cubic metres (300 million gallons) a day: a capacity 126% of the current[when?] water supply of the city of Bangalore,[citation needed] which has a population of 10 million.


  • 312 BC Aqua Appia, Rome's first aqueduct is built by Appius Claudius Caecus, the aqueduct is nearly all underground.
  • 272 BC Aqua Anio Vetus
  • 144 BC Aqua Marcia, 90 km (56 miles) in length, construction starts.
  • 33 BC Aqua Julia is built by Octavian (Emperor Augustus)
  • 19 BC Aqua Virgo is built to supply the thermal baths in the Campus Martius.
  • 38-52 AD Aqua Claudia built
  • 109 AD Aqua Traiana brings water from Lake Bracciano to supply Rome’s suburbs, now called Trastevere.[14]

Aqueducts in the Roman Empire

"Galería de los Espejos" (Gallery of Mirrors), a tunneled part of a 25 km Roman aqueduct built during the 1st century AD near Albarracín (Spain)
"Galería de los Espejos" (Gallery of Mirrors), a tunneled part of a 25 km Roman aqueduct built during the 1st century AD near Albarracín (Spain)

Hundreds of similar aqueducts were built throughout the Roman Empire. Many of them have since collapsed or been destroyed, but a number of intact portions remain. The Zaghouan Aqueduct is 92.5 km (57.5 mi) in length. It was built in the 2nd century to supply Carthage (in modern Tunisia). Surviving aqueduct bridges include the Pont du Gard in France and the Aqueduct of Segovia in Spain. The longest single conduit, at over 240 km, is associated with the Valens Aqueduct of Constantinople (Mango 1995). "The known system is at least two and half times the length of the longest recorded Roman aqueducts at Carthage and Cologne, but perhaps more significantly it represents one of the most outstanding surveying achievements of any pre-industrial society".[15] Rivalling this in terms of length and possibly equaling or exceeding it in cost and complexity, is the provincial Aqua Augusta that supplied an entire region, which contained at least eight cities, including the major ports at Naples and Misenum; sea voyages by traders and the Roman navy required copious supplies of fresh water.[16]

Planning, surveying and construction


Whether state-funded or privately built, aqueducts were protected and regulated by law. Any proposed aqueduct had to be submitted to the scrutiny of civil authorities. Permission (from the senate or local authorities) was granted only if the proposal respected the water rights of other citizens; on the whole, Roman communities took care to allocate shared water resources according to need.[17] The land on which a state-funded aqueduct was built might be state land (ager publicus) or privately owned, but in either case was subject to restrictions on usage and encroachment that might damage the fabric of the aqueduct. To this end, state funded aqueducts reserved a wide corridor of land, up to 15 feet each side of the aqueduct's outer fabric. Ploughing, planting and building were prohibited within this boundary. Such regulation was necessary to the aqueduct's long-term integrity and maintenance but was not always readily accepted or easily enforced at a local level, particularly when ager publicus was understood to be common property. Some privately built or smaller municipal aqueducts may have required less stringent and formal arrangements.[18]

Sources and surveying

Springs were by far the most common sources for aqueduct water; for example, most of Rome's supply came from various springs in the Anio valley and its uplands. Spring-water was fed into a stone or concrete springhouse, then entered the aqueduct conduit. Scattered springs would require several branch conduits feeding into a main channel. Some systems drew water from open, purpose-built, dammed reservoirs, such as the two (still in use) that supplied the aqueduct at the provincial city of Emerita Augusta.[19]

The territory over which the aqueduct ran had to be carefully surveyed to ensure the water would flow at an acceptable gradient for the entire distance.[20] Roman engineers used various surveying tools to plot the course of aqueducts across the landscape. They checked horizontal levels with a chorobates, a flatbedded wooden frame fitted with a water level. They plotted courses and angles could be plotted and checked using a groma, a relatively simple apparatus that was probably displaced by the more sophisticated dioptra, precursor of the modern theodolite. In Book 8 of his De Architectura, Vitruvius describes the need to ensure a constant supply, methods of prospecting, and tests for potable water.

Health issues

Greek and Roman physicians knew the association between stagnant or tainted waters and water-borne disease. They also knew the adverse health effects of lead on those who mined and processed it, and for this reason, ceramic pipes were preferred over lead. Where lead pipes were used, a continuous water-flow and the inevitable deposition of water-borne minerals within the pipes somewhat reduced the water's contamination by soluble lead.[21] Nevertheless, the level of lead in this water was 100 times higher than in local spring waters.[22]

Conduits and gradients

The water conduit of the Tarragona Aqueduct, Spain.
The water conduit of the Tarragona Aqueduct, Spain.

Most Roman aqueducts were flat-bottomed, arch-section conduits that ran 0.5 to 1 m beneath the ground surface, with inspection-and-access covers at regular intervals.[23] Conduits above ground level were usually slab-topped. Early conduits were ashlar-built but from around the late Republican era, brick-faced concrete was often used instead. The concrete used for conduit linings was usually waterproof. The flow of water depended on gravity alone. The volume of water transported within the conduit depended on the catchment hydrology – rainfall, absorption, and runoff – the cross section of the conduit, and its gradient; most conduits ran about two-thirds full. The conduit's cross section was also determined by maintenance requirements; workmen must be able to enter and access the whole, with minimal disruption to its fabric.[24]

Vitruvius recommends a low gradient of not less than 1 in 4800 for the channel, presumably to prevent damage to the structure through erosion and water pressure. This value agrees well with the measured gradients of surviving masonry aqueducts. The gradient of the Pont du Gard is only 34 cm per km, descending only 17 m vertically in its entire length of 50 km (31 mi): it could transport up to 20,000 cubic metres a day. The gradients of temporary aqueducts used for hydraulic mining could be considerably greater, as at Dolaucothi in Wales (with a maximum gradient of about 1:700) and Las Medulas in northern Spain. Where sharp gradients were unavoidable in permanent conduits, the channel could be stepped downwards, widened or discharged into a receiving tank to disperse the flow of water and reduce its abrasive force.[25] The use of stepped cascades and drops also helped re-oxygenate and thus "freshen" the water.[26]

Bridgework and siphons

The arches of an elevated section of the Roman provincial Aqueduct of Segovia, in modern Spain.
The arches of an elevated section of the Roman provincial Aqueduct of Segovia, in modern Spain.

Some aqueduct conduits were supported across valleys or hollows on arches of masonry, brick or concrete; the Pont du Gard, one of the most impressive surviving examples of a massive masonry multiple-piered conduit, spanned the Gardon river-valley some 48.8 m (160 ft) above the Gardon itself. Where particularly deep or lengthy depressions had to be crossed, inverted siphons could be used, instead of arched supports; the conduit fed water into a header tank, which fed it into pipes. The pipes crossed the valley at lower level, supported by a low "venter" bridge, then rose to a receiving tank at a slightly lower elevation. This discharged into another conduit; the overall gradient was maintained. Siphon pipes were usually made of soldered lead, sometimes reinforced by concrete encasements or stone sleeves. Less often, the pipes themselves were stone or ceramic, jointed as male-female and sealed with lead.[27] Vitruvius describes the construction of siphons and the problems of blockage, blow-outs and venting at their lowest levels, where the pressures were greatest. Nonetheless, siphons were versatile and effective if well-built and well-maintained. A horizontal section of high-pressure siphon tubing in the Aqueduct of the Gier was ramped up on bridgework to clear a navigable river, using nine lead pipes in parallel, cased in concrete.[28][29] Modern hydraulic engineers use similar techniques to enable sewers and water pipes to cross depressions. At Arles, a minor branch of the main aqueduct supplied a local suburb via a lead siphon whose "belly" was laid across a riverbed, eliminating any need for supporting bridgework.[30]

Inspection and maintenance

Catchment basin of the aqueduct of Metz, France. The single arched cover protects two channels; either one could be closed off, allowing repair while the other continued to provide at least partial supply
Catchment basin of the aqueduct of Metz, France. The single arched cover protects two channels; either one could be closed off, allowing repair while the other continued to provide at least partial supply

Roman aqueducts required a comprehensive system of regular maintenance. The "clear corridors" created to protect the fabric of underground and overground conduits were regularly patrolled for unlawful ploughing, planting, roadways and buildings. Frontinus describes the penetration of conduits by tree-roots as particularly damaging.[18] The aqueducts conduits would have been regularly inspected and maintained by working patrols, to reduce algal fouling, repair accidental breaches, to clear the conduits of gravel and other loose debris, and to remove channel-narrowing accretions of calcium carbonate in systems fed by hard water sources. Inspection and access points were provided at regular intervals on the standard, buried conduits. Accretions within syphons could drastically reduce flow rates, due to the already narrow diameter of their pipes. Some had sealed openings that might have been used as rodding eyes, possibly using a pull-through device. In Rome, where a hard-water supply was the norm, mains pipework was shallowly buried beneath road kerbs, for ease of access; the accumulation of calcium carbonate in these pipes would have necessitated their frequent replacement.[31]

The aqueducts were under the overall care and governance of a water commissioner (curator aquarum). It was a high status, high-profile appointment. In 97, Frontinus served both as consul and as curator aquarum, under the emperor Nerva.[32] Little is known of the day-to-day business of aqueduct maintenance teams (aquarii). Under the emperor Claudius, Rome's contingent of imperial aquarii comprised a familia aquarum of 700 persons, both slave and free, funded through a combination of Imperial largesse and water taxes. They were supervised by an Imperial freedman, who held office as procurator aquarium.[33] Theirs was probably a never-ending routine of patrol, inspection and cleaning, punctuated by occasional emergencies. Full closure of any aqueduct for servicing would have been a rare event, kept as brief as possible, with repairs preferably made when water demand was lowest, which was presumably at night.[34] The water supply could be shut off at its aqueduct outlet when small or local repairs were needed, but substantial maintenance and repairs to the aqueduct conduit itself required the complete diversion of water at any point upstream or at the spring-head itself.

Urban distribution tank at Nîmes, France. Circular section pipes radiate from a central reservoir, fed by a square-sectioned aqueduct.
Urban distribution tank at Nîmes, France. Circular section pipes radiate from a central reservoir, fed by a square-sectioned aqueduct.


Aqueduct mains could be directly tapped, but they more usually fed into public distribution terminals, known as castella aquae, which supplied various branches and spurs, usually via large-bore lead or ceramic pipes. Thereafter, the supply could be further subdivided. Licensed, fee-paying private users would have been registered, along with the bore of pipe that led from the public water supply to their private property – the wider the pipe, the greater the flow and the higher the fee. Tampering and fraud to avoid or reduce payment were commonplace; methods included the fitting of unlicensed outlets, additional outlets, and the illegal widening of lead pipes; any of which might involve the bribery or connivance of unscrupulous aqueduct officials or workers. Official lead pipes carried inscriptions with information on the pipe's manufacturer, its fitter, and probably on its subscriber and their entitlement.[35] During the Imperial era, lead production became an Imperial monopoly, and the granting of rights to draw water for private use from state-funded aqueducts was made an imperial privilege.[36][37]


Civic and domestic

Rome's first aqueduct (312 BC) discharged at very low pressure and at a more-or-less constant rate in the city's main trading centre and cattle-market, probably into a low-level, cascaded series of troughs or basins; the upper for household use, the lower for watering the livestock traded there. Most Romans would have filled buckets and storage jars at the basins, and carried the water to their apartments; the better off would have sent slaves to perform the same task. The outlet's elevation was too low to offer any city household or building a direct supply; the overflow drained into Rome's main sewer, and from there into the Tiber. At this time, Rome had no public baths. The first were probably built in the next century, based on precursors in neighboring Campania; a limited number of private baths and small, street-corner public baths would have had a private water supply, but once aqueduct water was brought to the city's higher elevations, large and well-appointed public baths were built throughout the city, and drinking water was delivered to public fountains at high pressure. Public baths and fountains became distinctive features of Roman civilization, and the baths in particular became important social centres.[38][39]

The majority of urban Romans lived in multi-storeyed blocks of flats (insulae). Some blocks offered water services, but only to tenants on the more expensive, lower floors; the rest would have drawn their water gratis from public fountains.[40]


Between 65 and 90% of the Roman Empire's population was involved in some form of agricultural work. Farmers whose villas or estates were near a public aqueduct could draw, under license, a specified quantity of aqueduct water for summer irrigation at a predetermined time; this was intended to limit the depletion of water supply to users further down the gradient, and help ensure a fair distribution among competitors at the time when water was most needed and scarce. Water was possibly the most important variable in the agricultural economy of the Mediterranean world. Roman Italy's natural water sources – springs, streams, rivers and lakes – were unevenly distributed across the landscape, and water tended to scarcity when most needed, during the warm, dry summer growing season. Columella recommends that any farm should contain a spring, stream or river;[41] but acknowledges that not every farm did.

Farmland without a reliable summer water-source was virtually worthless. During the growing season, the water demand of a "modest local" irrigation system might consume as much water as the city of Rome; and the livestock whose manure fertilised the fields must be fed and watered all year round. At least some Roman landowners and farmers relied in part or whole on aqueduct water to raise crops as their primary or sole source of income but the fraction of aqueduct water involved can only be guessed at. More certainly, the creation of municipal and city aqueducts brought a growth in the intensive and efficient suburban market-farming of fragile, perishable commodities such as flowers (for perfumes, and for festival garlands), grapes, vegetables and orchard fruits; and of small livestock such as pigs and chickens, close to the municipal and urban markets.[42]

A licensed right to aqueduct water on farmland could lead to increased productivity, a cash income through the sale of surplus foodstuffs, and an increase in the value of the land itself. In the countryside, permissions to draw aqueduct water for irrigation were particularly hard to get; the exercise and abuse of such rights were subject to various known legal disputes and judgements, and at least one political campaign; in the early 2nd century BC Cato tried to block all unlawful rural outlets, especially those owned by the landed elite - "Look how much he bought the land for, where he is channeling the water!" - during his censorship. His attempted reform proved impermanent at best. Though illegal tapping could be punished by seizure of assets, including the illegally watered land and its produce, this law seems never to have been used, and was probably impracticable; food surpluses kept prices low. Grain shortages in particular could lead to famine and social unrest. Any practical solution must strike a balance between the water-needs of urban populations and grain producers, tax the latter's profits, and secure sufficient grain at reasonable cost for the Roman poor (the so-called "corn dole") and the army. Rather than seek to impose unproductive and probably unenforcable bans, the authorities issued individual water grants (though seldom in rural areas) and licenses, and regulated water outlets, with variable success. In the 1st century AD, Pliny the Elder, like Cato, could fulminate against grain producers who continued to wax fat on profits from public water and public land.[43]

Some landholders avoided such restrictions and entanglements by buying water access rights to distant springs, not necessarily on their own land. A few, of high wealth and status, built their own aqueducts to transport such water from source to field or villa; Mumius Niger Valerius Vegetus bought the rights to a spring and its water from his neighbour, and access rights to a corridor of intervening land, then built an aqueduct of just under 10 kilometres, connecting the springhead to his own villa. The senatorial permission for this "Aqua Vegetiana" was given only when the project seemed not to impinge on the water rights of other citizens.[44]


Rock-cut aqueduct feeding water to the mining site at Las Médulas
Rock-cut aqueduct feeding water to the mining site at Las Médulas

Some aqueducts supplied water to industrial sites, usually via an open channel cut into the ground, clay lined or wood-shuttered to reduce water loss. Most such leats were designed to operate at the steep gradients that could deliver the high water volumes needed in mining operations. Water was used in hydraulic mining to strip the overburden and expose the ore by hushing, to fracture and wash away metal-bearing rock already heated and weakened by fire-setting, and to power water-wheel driven stamps and trip-hammers that crushed ore for processing. Evidence of such leats and machines has been found at Dolaucothi in south-west Wales.[45][46]

Mining sites such as Dolaucothi and Las Medulas in northwest Spain show multiple aqueducts that fed water from local rivers to the mine head. The channels may have deteriorated rapidly, or become redundant as the nearby ore was exhausted. Las Medulas shows at least seven such leats, and Dolaucothi at least five. At Dolaucothi, the miners used holding reservoirs as well as hushing tanks, and sluice gates to control flow, as well as drop chutes for diversion of water supplies. The remaining traces (see palimpsest) of such channels allows the mining sequence to be inferred.

Map of the gold mine at Dolaucothi, showing its aqueducts
Map of the gold mine at Dolaucothi, showing its aqueducts

A number of other sites fed by several aqueducts have not yet been thoroughly explored or excavated, such as those at Longovicium near Lanchester south of Hadrian's wall, in which the water supplies may have been used to power trip-hammers for forging iron.

At Barbegal in Roman Gaul, a reservoir fed an aqueduct that drove a cascaded series of 15 or 16 overshot water mills, grinding flour for the Arles region. Similar arrangements, though on a lesser scale, have been found in Caesarea, Venafrum and Roman-era Athens. Rome's Aqua Traiana drove a flour-mill at the Janiculum, west of the Tiber. A mill in the basement of the Baths of Caracalla was driven by aqueduct overspill; this was but one of many city mills driven by aqueduct water, with or without official permission. A law of the 5th century forbade the illicit use of aqueduct water for milling.[47]

Decline in use

A portion of the Eifel Aqueduct, Germany, built in 80 AD. Its channel is narrowed by an accretion of calcium carbonate, accumulated through lack of maintenance.
A portion of the Eifel Aqueduct, Germany, built in 80 AD. Its channel is narrowed by an accretion of calcium carbonate, accumulated through lack of maintenance.

During the fall of the Roman Empire, some aqueducts were deliberately cut by enemies but more fell into disuse because of deteriorating Roman infrastructure and lack of maintenance, such as the Eifel aqueduct (pictured right). Observations made by the Spaniard Pedro Tafur, who visited Rome in 1436, reveal misunderstandings of the very nature of the Roman aqueducts:

Through the middle of the city runs a river, which the Romans brought there with great labour and set in their midst, and this is the Tiber. They made a new bed for the river, so it is said, of lead, and channels at one and the other end of the city for its entrances and exits, both for watering horses and for other services convenient to the people, and anyone entering it at any other spot would be drowned.[48]

During the Renaissance, the standing remains of the city's massive masonry aqueducts inspired architects, engineers and their patrons; Pope Nicholas V renovated the main channels of the Roman Aqua Virgo in 1453.[49] Many aqueducts in Rome's former empire were kept in good repair. The 15th-century rebuilding of aqueduct at Segovia in Spain shows advances on the Pont du Gard by using fewer arches of greater height, and so greater economy in its use of the raw materials. The skill in building aqueducts was not lost, especially of the smaller, more modest channels used to supply water wheels. Most such mills in Britain were developed in the medieval period for bread production, and used similar methods as that developed by the Romans with leats tapping local rivers and streams.

See also


  1. ^ Gargarin, M. and Fantham, E. (editors). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, Volume 1. p. 145.
  2. ^ Cited by Quilici, Lorenzo (2008). "Land Transport, Part 1: Roads and Bridges" in Oleson, John Peter (ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World. Oxford University Press. New York. ISBN 978-0-19-518731-1. pp. 551–579 (552).
  3. ^ Mays, L. (editor). Ancient Water Technologies. Springer. 2010. pp. 115–116.
  4. ^ Gargarin, M. and Fantham, E. (editors). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. 2010. pp. 144–145.
  5. ^ Cynthia Bannon, Gardens and Neighbors: Private Water Rights in Roman Italy. University of Michigan Press, 2009, pp. 65–73.
  6. ^ The Roman general and hydraulic engineer Frontinus later calculated its delivery at 1825 quinariae (75,537 cubic meters) in 24 hours; see Samuel Ball Platner (1929, as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby): A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. London: Oxford University. p. 29.
  7. ^ Sextus Julius Frontinus. The Aqueducts of Rome. pp.1, 6–20.
  8. ^ "At that time the Decemvirs, on consulting the Sibylline Books for another purpose, are said to have discovered that it was not right for the Marcian water, or rather the Anio (for tradition more regularly mentions this) to be brought to the Capitol. The matter is said to have been debated in the Senate, in the consulship of Appius Claudius and Quintus Caecilius, Marcus Lepidus acting as spokesman for the Board of Decemvirs; and three years later the matter is said to have been brought up again by Lucius Lentulus, in the consulship of Gaius Laelius and Quintus Servilius, but on both occasions the influence of Marcius Rex carried the day; and thus the water was brought to the Capitol." Sextus Julius Frontinus, The Aqueducts of Rome, 6–20, [1]
  9. ^ a b The Aqua Alsietina was also known as "Aqua Augusta"; Frontinus distinguishes its "unwholesome" supply from the "sweet waters" of the Aqua Augusta that fed into the Aqua Marcia. On the one hand, he says the Naumachia's supply is "nowhere delivered for consumption by the people... [but the surplus is allowed] to the adjacent gardens and to private users for irrigation". On the other hand, "It is customary, however, in the district across the Tiber, in an emergency, whenever the bridges are undergoing repairs and the water supply is cut off from this side of the river, to draw from Alsietina to maintain the flow of the public fountains." Frontinus, The Aqueducts of Rome 1, 6–20.
  10. ^ Sextus Julius Frontinus, The Aqueducts of Rome, 6–20
  11. ^ CARON, André. "THE AQUEDUCTS". Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  12. ^ Taylor, Rabun (2002), Tiber River bridges and the development of the ancient city of Rome, pp. 16–17, accessed 22 June 2013
  13. ^ Hodge, A. Trevor, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, Duckworth Archaeology, 2002, pp. 255 – 6, and note 43.
  14. ^ "Aqueducts: Quenching Rome's Thirst". 2016-11-15. Retrieved 2016-11-18. 
  15. ^ Historical and Archaeological Context Constantinople and the longest Roman aqueduct Accessed August 28, 2016.
  16. ^ Da Feo, G., and Napoli, R. M. A., "Historical development of the Augustan Aqueduct in Southern Italy: twenty centuries of works from Serino to Naples", Water Science & Technology Water Supply, March 2007
  17. ^ Cynthia Bannon, Gardens and Neighbors: Private Water Rights in Roman Italy. University of Michigan Press, 2009, pp. 5-10
  18. ^ a b Taylor, R., Public Needs and Private Pleasures: Water Distribution, the Tiber River and the Urban Development of Ancient Rome, (Studia Archaeologica), L'ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER, 2000, pp. 56-60
  19. ^ Mays, L., (Editor), Ancient Water Technologies, Springer, 2010. p. 116.
  20. ^ Taylor, R. (2012). Rome's Lost Aqueduct. (Cover story). Archaeology, 65(2), 34–40.
  21. ^ James Grout, Encyclopedia Romana, Lead Poisoning and Rome [2] (accessed 21 May 2013)
  22. ^ Delile, Hugo; Blichert-Toft, Janne; Goiran, Jean-Philippe; Keay, Simon; Albarède, Francis (6 May 2014). "Lead in ancient Rome's city waters". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (18): 6594–6599. Bibcode:2014PNAS..111.6594D. doi:10.1073/pnas.1400097111. PMC 4020092Freely accessible. PMID 24753588 – via 
  23. ^ Hodge, A. Trevor, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, Duckworth Archaeology, 2002. pp. 93–4.
  24. ^ Hodge, A. Trevor, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, Duckworth Archaeology, 2002. p. 2.
  25. ^ Mays, L., (Editor), Ancient Water Technologies, Springer, 2010. p. 119.
  26. ^ H. Chanson, "Hydraulics of Roman Aqueducts: Steep Chutes, Cascades, and Drop Shafts," American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 104 No. 1 (2000). 47-51.
  27. ^ Hodge, A. Trevor, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, Duckworth Archaeology, 2002. pp. 110 – 11.
  28. ^ The sense of venter as "belly" is apparent in Vitruvius 8.6: "if there be long valleys, and when it [the water] arrives at the bottom, let it be carried level by means of a low substruction as great a distance as possible; this is the part called the venter, by the Greeks koilia; when it arrives at the opposite acclivity, the water therein being but slightly swelled on account of the length of the venter, it may be directed upwards... Over the venter long stand pipes should be placed, by means of which, the violence of the air may escape. Thus, those who have to conduct water through leaden pipes, may by these rules, excellently regulate its descent, its circuit, the venter, and the compression of the air."Vitruvius, 8.6.5-6, trans Gwilt
  29. ^ Mays, L., (Editor), Ancient Water Technologies, Springer, 2010. p.120.[3]
  30. ^ Taylor, R., Public Needs and Private Pleasures: Water Distribution, the Tiber River and the Urban Development of Ancient Rome, (Studia Archaeologica), L'ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER, 2000, p. 31
  31. ^ Taylor, R., Public Needs and Private Pleasures: Water Distribution, the Tiber River and the Urban Development of Ancient Rome (Studia Archaeologica), L'ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER, 2000, pp. 30-33, for calcined accretions and replacement of pipework. Water regulations prescribed a 5 foot distance between buildings and mains piping; an urban version of the protective "corridors" afforded to aqueducts.
  32. ^ Hodge, A. Trevor, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, Duckworth Archaeology, 2002, pp. 16-17: Frontinus had already had a distinguished career as consul, general and provincial governor; and he served again as consul in 100
  33. ^ Taylor, R., Public Needs and Private Pleasures: Water Distribution, the Tiber River and the Urban Development of Ancient Rome, (Studia Archaeologica), L'ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER, 2000, pp. 30-33
  34. ^ Hodge, A. Trevor, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, Duckworth Archaeology, 2002; debris and gravel, pp. 24−30, 275: calcium carbonate, pp. 2, 17, 98: apertures in pipes as possible rodding eyes, p. 38.
  35. ^ Hodge, A. Trevor, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, Duckworth Archaeology, 2002, pp. 291−298, 305−311, and footnotes.
  36. ^ Taylor, R., Public Needs and Private Pleasures: Water Distribution, the Tiber River and the Urban Development of Ancient Rome, (Studia Archaeologica), L'ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER, 2000, pp. 85-86
  37. ^ H B Evans, Water Distribution in Ancient Rome: The Evidence of Frontinus, University of Michigan Press, 1997, pp. 41−43, 72.
  38. ^ For the earliest likely development of Roman public bathing, see Fagan, Garrett T., Bathing in Public in the Roman World, University of Michigan Press, 1999, pp. 42−44. googlebooks preview
  39. ^ Hodge, A. Trevor, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, Duckworth Archaeology, 2002, pp. 3, 5, 49.
  40. ^ Gill N.S. (2007). Aqueducts, Water Supply and Sewers in Ancient Rome. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
  41. ^ Columella, De Re Rustica, Book 1, English translation at Loeb Classical Library, 1941 [4]
  42. ^ Cynthia Bannon, Gardens and Neighbors: Private Water Rights in Roman Italy. University of Michigan Press, 2009, pp. 5−10; citing Hodge, Roman Aqueducts, pp. 246 – 247 for estimate on water consumption by irrigation.
  43. ^ Cynthia Bannon, Gardens and Neighbors: Private Water Rights in Roman Italy. University of Michigan Press, 2009, pp. 5−10; citing Hodge, Roman Aqueducts, pp. 246−247 for estimate on water consumption by irrigation; p. 219 for Cato's legislation on misuse of water: the quotation is from Cato's speech against L. Furius Purpureus, who was consul in 196 BC.
  44. ^ Cynthia Bannon, Gardens and Neighbors: Private Water Rights in Roman Italy. University of Michigan Press, 2009, p. 73.
  45. ^ Wilson, Andrew (2002): "Machines, Power and the Ancient Economy", The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 92, pp. 1–32 (21f.), p. 21f.
  46. ^ Lewis, M.J.T., "Millstone and Hammer: the Origins of Water Power", Hull Academic Press, 1998, Section 2.
  47. ^ Hodge, A. Trevor, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, Duckworth Archaeology, 2002. pp. 255−258. [Paperback] [5]
  48. ^ Pedro Tafur, Travels and Adventures (1435–1439), trans. Malcolm Letts, Harper & brothers, 1926. link to
  49. ^ Gross, Hanns (1990). Rome in the Age of Enlightenment: the Post-Tridentine syndrome and the ancien regime. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 28. ISBN 0-521-37211-9. 


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