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Ancient Roman Aqueducts Essay

1262 words - 6 pages

The Ancient Roman aqueducts are an engineering feat thought to be impossible in that day and age. Ancient Roman Aqueducts were a an engineering marvel unlike no others at this time because of their history, construction, and impact on society.
An aqueduct is any manmade bridge or viaduct that transports water. Aqueduct is derived from the latin words “aqua” (water) and “ducere” (to lead) (“Ancient Roman Aqueducts”). Even though aqueducts are a symbol of the engineering advancement of the Roman Empire, aqueducts are not a Roman invention. In 691 B.C., the Persians invented a qanāt, which is a channel that transports water from deep underground to the surface. In 530 B.C., Greeks built a primitive aqueduct. Even though the Romans did not invent the aqueducts, they perfected them. At the height of the empire, eleven aqueducts supplied Rome: Aqua Appia, Aqua Anio Vestus, Aqua Marcia, Aqua Tepula, Aqua Julia, Aqua Virgo, Aqua Alestinia, Aqua Claudia, Aqua Anio Novus, Aqua Traiana, and Aqua Alexandrina. These eleven aqueducts were built over a span of 538 years, from 312 B.C. to 226 A.D (Schram, Wilke D.). The eleven aqueducts carried a combined 200 million gallons of water per day to Rome (Wulf, Caroline). The aqueducts supplied each citizen of Rome with more than 265 gallons of water per day. That is a lot more than most modern water systems can deliver today (Layton, Julia). In the first days of the aqueducts, the water they brought in were used in government buildings, mining, agriculture, and baths (“Ancient Roman Aqueducts”). As Rome’s population grew, major aqueducts served government buildings, baths, public fountains, homes, and latrines throughout the city (Cote, Michael).
Aqueducts in ancient Rome operated entirely upon the forces of gravity. Every mile, the aqueduct sloped down by a few feet to ensure that there was a constant flow of water (Layton, Julia). Although the iconic image of an aqueduct is a water channel upon high arches, less than 5% of the entire aqueduct system was above ground (Cote, Michael). Most of the aqueduct system was underground. Arches were only used in valleys and other areas of low elevation so that the slope could be consistent.
Once the aqueducts reached Rome, it emptied into one of three holding tanks, or cisterns. The first holding tank was for public fountains. The second supplied public baths. The third was reserved for the emperor and for the wealthy (Wulf, Caroline). The main flow of the water could still be maintained while some of the water exited through smaller lines that supplied baths or fountains (“Construction”).The cistern also acted as a filtration system in the form of a settling tank. It helped to remove large debris and purified it slightly (“The Aqueducts of Rome”). Even though a filtration system was being used to help purify the water, aqueducts had to be properly cleaned and maintained regularly (“Construction”). This helped to keep the water clean and moving smoothly. Since the...

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