In part one of our series on ancient engineering, we looked at the Egyptian pyramids; now, we turn to the mighty Roman Empire.
The Romans were, of course, famed for their advanced engineering feats; as the Monty Python team famously illustrated, there are plenty of answers to the question, “What did the Romans ever do for us?”
For the time being, however, we’ll focus on just one.
Water is one of the most fundamental requirements of a successful civilisation; we need clean water to drink, to cook, and to wash. Beyond that, it’s also necessary for growing food, and useful in generating power for machinery.
As a city grows, people find themselves living further and further away from their water source. Directing and managing water offers a great leap forward in managing and serving a growing population – and the Roman aqueducts provided the solution.
Their basic principle is incredibly simple. By constructing a channel with a slight downward gradient, aqueducts use gravity to carry water from distant sources to exactly where it’s needed. The scale upon which the Romans were able to do this, however, is quite astonishing.
Fourteen aqueducts brought water into ancient Rome, providing a constant supply for the baths and the sewers. The Romans used 1,000 cubic metres a day – which, per capita, matches modern usage in the city quite closely, even though today we have modern appliances like dishwashers and showers.
The first, the Aqua Appia, was constructed in 312 BC, and carried water 16.4km through tunnels from a spring outside the city to a fountain at the cattle market. A second aqueduct, forty years later, carried water on high arches from the Aniene River to the higher parts of the city, and as the city expanded and its need for water grew, further aqueducts were commissioned.
It wasn’t just in Rome that aqueducts transformed the landscape; hundreds of aqueducts were built throughout the Roman Empire, bringing fresh water into cities, to farmlands and to industrial sites. Two famous examples which can still be seen today are the aqueduct of Segovia in Spain and the Pont du Gard in France, as pictured above.
At Airedale Springs, we’re always inspired by the achievements of engineers both ancient and modern, and proud to be part of such a long tradition. We ensure that all of our products, from torsion springs to wire forms, are made to the highest possible standards to help you create work that can stand the test of time. For more information, contact us today on 01535 643456.