Roman Aqueducts Essay

1447 words - 6 pages

INTRODUCTION To most people, familiar with pictures of the great bridges and arcades, arches and aqueducts are largely synonymous. The most famous aqueduct builders of ancient times were the Romans. The word "aqueduct" comes from the Latin aqua ("water") and ducere ("to lead"). The typical Roman aqueduct was a surface channel, a conduit that closely followed the surface of the land, instead of being raised on arches or sunk deep beneath it in a tunnel. Roman aqueducts exploited the principles of gravity in order to deliver water to the city. Water, collected from a source (catch, basin), traveled through a closed conduit (rivus or specus), usually subterranean, to its distribution tank or terminus (castellum).(Hodge, A.T., 1992, Roman Aqueducts And Water Supply: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd.: pp 93-96) (http://www.bible-history.com) (http://www.mrdowling.com) HISTORY OF THE AQUEDUCTS OF ROME During the early days of Rome the water supply came from the River Tiber, wells and springs. The Tiber, however, is a very muddy river and also received all the refuse from the Cloaca Maxima, the sewer which flowed under the Forum Roman. By the late 4th century, when the Romans were engaged in the second Samnite War, they urgently needed alternate water supplies, not only was the water no longer reliable for their growing population; it was also vulnerable to poison from the enemy lines. The result was the construction of a complex system of aqueducts that "evolved on a piecemeal basis over time." In 312BC the Adile Appius Claudius undertook construction of the first aqueduct, Aqua Appia, and over the next five hundred years ten more aqueducts were added to fulfill future demands.(Aicher, P. 1995. Guide to the Aqueducts of Ancient Rome. Bolchazy-carducci Publishers,Inc. p34) (http://www.higginbotham.com) (http://www.dl.ket.org) CONSTRUCTION The Romans, utilizing the Assyrian and Greek models, took aqueduct construction to its highest level. Rome's greatest hurdle was her topography and the problems it posed: specifically, how the water brought to Rome by these aqueducts was delivered to its high and low-lying districts..Three types of conduits were specified, namely masonry channels, lead pipes and terracotta pipes. The earliest aqueducts were cut through clay or cut out of solid rock; wood, stone and primitive concrete was used to keep the structures intact. The function of the cement was threefold: to make channel impervious to leaks, to provide a smooth contact surface and to ensure that the surface was continuous and uniform with no joints from one end to the other.After water had been found and the aqueduct was commissioned to be built, the Senate assessed the cost of construction, decided which spring to tap and appointed a liberator or surveyor. Work on the aqueduct would begin concurrently at various points on the decided route, which was marked with wooden stakes.Once the liberator had marked the final route, shafts were dug every twenty yards from...

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