In antiquity, aqueducts transported water indigenous one ar to another, achieving a regular and also controlled supply to a ar that would not otherwise have received adequate quantities. Consequently, aqueducts met an easy needs such together the irrigation of food crops and also drinking fountains. Old aqueducts took the form of tunnels, surface channels and canals, spanned clay pipes and monumental bridges.

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Ever because the human race has lived in communities and farmed the land, water management has actually been a crucial factor in the well-being and prosperity the a community. Settlements not instantly near a freshwater source dug shafts right into underground water tables to develop wells and also cisterns were also created to collection rainwater so the it can be supplied at a later date. Secret aqueducts and those built as bridges on the surface, however, allowed communities not just to access clean and fresh water however to live more from a water source and to utilise land which would certainly otherwise have actually been unusable because that agriculture.


The first sophisticated long-distance canal equipment were created in the Assyrian realm in the ninth century BCE.

The earliest and simplest aqueducts were constructed of lengths of turning back clay tiles and sometimes pipes i m sorry channelled water over a short distance and followed the border of the land. The earliest instances of these day from the Minoan world on Crete in the early second millennium BCE and from contemporary Mesopotamia. Aqueducts were also critical feature the Mycenaean negotiations in the 14th century BCE, ensuring autonomy versus siege because that the acropolis the Mycenae and the fortifications at Tiryns.

Aqueducts in Mesopotamia

The an initial sophisticated long-distance canal systems for water supply were created in the Assyrian empire in the 9th century BCE and incorporated tunnels numerous kilometres in length. These engineering feats allowed the aqueducts come be constructed in a much more direct line between source and outlet. The Babylonians in the 8th century BCE also built extensive and innovative canal systems. In the 7th century BCE, a large canal crossed a 280 m long bridge to bring water come Nineveh, and water was brought through a 537-metre tunnel to it is provided Jerusalem.


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Fountain Entrance, Mycenae
Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA)

Another important innovation in water management was qanats. These most likely originated native Persia (or maybe Arabia) and also were huge underground galleries which collected groundwater. Tunnels at a reduced level 보다 the reservoir and also often number of kilometres in length then channelled turn off the water via the pressure of gravity. Such underground aqueducts together the Qanats were existing throughout the old world native Egypt come China.

Greek Water Management

The an initial Greek large water management projects occurred in the 7th century BCE and were usually to it is provided communal drinking fountains. Both Samos and Athens were offered by long-distance aqueducts from the 6th century BCE; the former was 2.5 km long and also included the famed 1 kilometres tunnel designed by Eupalinus that Megara. Pisistratus created an aqueduct of 15 to 25 cm broad ceramic tube in the Ilissus valley, 8 kilometres long.


In the 4th century BCE, Priene in Asia Minor had a comparable system of secret pipes which complied with an synthetic ditch extended in rock slabs. 3rd-century BCE Syracuse benefitted indigenous no fewer than 3 aqueducts and also Hellenistic Pergamon, c. 200 BCE, had some of the most innovative water monitoring structures well-known at that time.


The roman inn aqueduct of Segovia was 28 m high & the Pont du Gard in southerly France to be 49 m in height.

Roman Aqueducts

It is, however, the Romans who have actually rightly acquired celebrity together the aqueduct builders par excellence. Hugely ambitious Roman engineering projects properly mastered every kinds of challenging and danger terrain and also made your magnificent arched aqueducts a usual sight throughout the roman inn Empire, giving towns with water to meet not only simple needs but likewise those of big public roman inn baths, decorative fountains (nymphaea) and private villas. Whilst most aqueducts ongoing to operation along the surface and follow land border wherever possible, the creation of the arch enabled for the building and construction of large-span structures, employing new materials such as concrete and also waterproof cement, which can ignore unfavourable floor features and draw the water follow me the straightest feasible route along a continuous gradient. Similarly, an increase in engineering expertise enabled for large-scale and also deep tunnelling projects.


Another creation which enabled for aqueducts to overcome valleys to be the large inverted siphon. These to be made of clay or multiple command pipes reinforced with rock blocks and with the pressure of gravity and also pressure as the water ran under the valley the inert gained might drive the water up the opposite side. Arched bridges running throughout the sink floor can lessen the height the water had actually to fall and much more importantly, go up on its ascent. Stopcocks to control pressure and also regulate the water flow, storage reservoirs, stable tanks come extract sediment and also mesh filters at outlets were other features of roman inn aqueducts. Periodically water was also "freshened" through aerating it v a system of little cascades. Interestingly, roman aqueducts were likewise protected through law and also no agricultural task was allowed near lock in situation of damages by ploughing and root growth. On the other hand, farming did benefit from aqueducts, together in many cases, run-off networks were created to administer water for land irrigation.

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The first aqueducts to serve Rome were the 16 km long Aqua Appia (312 BCE), the Anio Vetus (272-269 BCE) and the 91 km long Aqua Marcia (144-140 BCE). Steadily, the network increased and even created connections between aqueducts: the Aqua Tepula (126-125 BCE), Julia (33 BCE), Virgo (22-19 BCE), Alsietina (2 BCE), Aqua Claudia and also Anio Novus (completed in 52 CE), Aqua Traiana (109 CE) and also the Aqua Alexandrina (226 CE). Gradually, other aqueducts to be built across Italy, because that example, in Alatri (130-120 BCE) and also Pompeii (c. 80 BCE). Julius Caesar constructed an aqueduct in ~ Antioch, the an initial outside Italy. Augustus (r. 27 BCE - 14 CE)oversaw the building of aqueducts at Carthage, Ephesus, and also the 96 kilometres aqueduct which offered Naples. Indeed, the first century CE saw an explosion of aqueduct construction, perhaps linked to the spread of Roman culture and your love the bathing and also fountains but likewise to satisfy the water requirements of ever-larger populace concentrations.

From the 1st to the second centuries CE, the really limits of architectural feasibility were stretched and also some the the largest Roman aqueducts to be constructed. These had two or 3 arcades the arches and reached prodigious heights. The aqueduct that Segovia was 28 m high and also the Pont du Gard in southern France to be 49 m in height, both of i beg your pardon still endure today as spectacular monuments to the skill and audacity of roman engineers.

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Bibliography

Grant, M. The background of Rome. Faber & Faber, London, 1993Vitruvius. On Architecture. Penguin Classics, 2009

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Mark is a history writer based in Italy. His one-of-a-kind interests incorporate pottery, architecture, people mythology and also discovering the concepts that all human beings share in common. He holds an MA in political Philosophy and is the publishing Director in ~ WHE.