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The Roman Aqueducts

Imagine you do not have running water. How would your life change? On top of that, you
would have to take an extra trip everyday to a spring or lake. That is a lot of unneeded work.
Roman engineers knew this and came up with an easy, quick, and lasting water system, the
aqueducts.

The Roman aqueducts are made of stone, concrete, terra cotta, wood, leather, lead, and
bronze. The stone arches we usually think of when someone says aqueduct is not what they were
entirely made of. In fact, only 50 kilometers out of 420 are the stone arches. When the water
comes from the main source it needs to be sped up. The Romans built siphons to speed up the
flow of water. A siphon is shaped like a horseshoe. The momentum of the water as it comes
down the hill moves it back up on the other side. These siphons were dug out of a hill and were
made of pipes. There were many kilometers that were underground in pipes made of stone, terra
cotta, bronze, or lead. The pipes would follow land contours to keep construction to a minimum.
However, lead was very expensive and siphons need lead for the water to pick up speed.
Therefore, the siphons were impractical. This is where the stone arches come in, arches are very
easy to build, strong, and they get the job done. They had trenches on the top that made an
artificial river. The arches were stacked on top of each other to keep the gradient the same. The
whole system is on a downward slope which uses gravity to keep it flowing. By seeing how they
created the aqueducts, we can see what the Romans knew and how they viewed the world.

Like everything the Romans made, the aqueducts were created for a purpose. The main
purpose was to supply water to Rome and Roman cities. The water was used for fountains, bath
houses, private villas and, the sewer systems. In the Coliseum, they have lines directly to an

aqueduct. These were probably from Neros palace but changed and used to flood the Coliseum.
It is possible that the Romans would flood the stadium and have live naval battles. The patricians
would get their water from their private estates, like Neros palace, but the commoners or
plebeians had to get their water from public fountains. This is a step up from most societies. In
other societies, the water would be in wells usually outside of town and a long trip would be
made to go fill up a little vase of water. The Romans did the opposite; they brought the water to
Rome.

The aqueducts influenced Rome to become a massive city. It provided more water than
ever before, which allows more people to live in one space. The large amount of people had its
difficulties but the good things far outnumbered the bad. One of the bad things is disease, which
the aqueducts helped prevent. One of the good things is there are more people to join the army.
Around Europe, there are several aqueducts still standing and some remembered in their ruins. In
Segovia, there is an aqueduct that is still in use. It is admired and one of the best preserved
landmarks on the Iberian Peninsula. It is even on their flag and coat of arms. Another one in
Gard, France called the Pont du Gard. It is a part of the Nimes aqueduct and is one of the top five
tourist attractions in France. Rome has not ruled in this area for thousands of years and still their
creations are visited by thousands of people.

Even though Rome only thought of the aqueducts as necessary structures, they are still
standing and serve as attractions. Something so simple is still used today. Yes we dont use the
stone arches but we do use siphons and we use pipes to transport water also. The visions of the
Romans are still around and changing the world today.

Citations

"Aqueduct." Ancient History Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.


<http://www.ancient.eu/aqueduct/>.

"Aqueduct." Ancient History Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.


<http://www.ancient.eu/aqueduct/>.

The Editors of Encyclopdia Britannica. "Aqueduct (engineering)." Encyclopedia Britannica


Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
<http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/31132/aqueduct>.

"Johnston's Private Life of the Romans, Ch. 16." Johnston's Private Life of the Romans, Ch. 16.
N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.

<http://www.forumromanum.org/life/johnston_16.html>.

"Johnston's Private Life of the Romans, Ch. 16." Johnston's Private Life of the Romans, Ch. 16.
N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.

<http://www.forumromanum.org/life/johnston_16.html>.

PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.


<http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/roman/manual.html>.

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