Major Engineering Events in History: The Roman Aqueducts 313 B.C. - 128 A.D.

About the major engineering events in history, the construction of the Roman Aqueducts from 313 B.C. to 128 A.D.

Great Engineering Feats from Early Times to the Present

313 B.C.-128 A.D. (The Roman Aqueducts). Long regarded by practicing engineers as brilliant engineering feats, the Roman aqueducts, spanning a useful life of some 440 years, are still very much in evidence today, although few, if any, continue to convey water. The Romans built over 200 aqueducts throughout their provinces, which stretched from France to Spain, and from Greece to Asia Minor. The 1st recorded aqueduct was built by the censor Appius Claudius Crassus (later Caecus) in 313 B.C. It was an underground supply approximately 10 1/2 mi. long. The 2nd aqueduct followed 30 years later, in 283 B.C. It wasn't until 145 B.C., however, that the Marcia, the "Pride of Rome," was built. This was the 1st high-water aqueduct. Originating in the Anio Valley above Tivoli, Marcia stretched for 58 mi., but was supported by graceful Roman arches for only 6 mi. It was the widest and highest of all Roman singletiered aqueducts. The aqueducts of the Romans often were added onto in succeeding years, so that a triple-tiered channel was the final result. The tallest of these is 160' high and was built in 19 A.D. near Nimes, France. When the aqueducts were at the height of their use, the Roman per capita water consumption approximated 38 gallons per day. This consumption figure is high even for today when it is compared with some European cities, but is low compared to consumption in the U.S., which is approximately 150 gallons per person per day. Although the Romans engineered their aqueducts superbly, they were not watertight (portland cement wasn't invented until 1820 A.D.), which eventually caused them to fall into disrepair and decay. The last Roman aqueduct was built in 128 A.D. By the 6th century A.D., only a few of Rome's neglected aqueducts conveyed anything but crumbling beauty.

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