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Roman Aqueducts & Water Supply: With a case study of Ilion

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  1. Introduction
  2. The underground aqueduct channel
  3. The arcades of Rome's first three major aqueducts
  4. The major distribution tank
  5. Case study: The Roman aqueduct of Troy
  6. The exact source of the aqueduct
  7. The largest of the masonry bridges
  8. Conclusion
  9. References

Modern day water supplies in the United States are supported by ground water, aquifers, lakes, and rivers. Water from these sources is then distributed through a collection of pipes into almost all American homes and apartments. Although water distribution is still a very complex system, it is often taken for granted by the public because water is accessible at the turn of a handle day and night. This was not always the case, however Prior to the construction of the first Roman aqueduct, wells, springs, and cisterns provided enough water to sustain cities throughout the Roman Empire. As the population in Roman cities increased, so, too, did the demand for water. Beginning in the 1st c. B.C., the increase in construction of bathing complexes which required large quantities of water further increased water demand.

Keywords: Aqueduct of Troy, Ida Mountains, Appia, Anio Vetus, Marica

[...] Since Ilion is at an elevation of 40 meters above sea level (masl), a water supply located in the Ida mountain range or in its foothills, approximately 20 km away, would have been able to supply the extra height required for gravity flow. Though the Scamander and Kemer rivers are much closer to Ilion than any spring in the Ida Mountains, the rivers are at lower elevations than the city meaning that water would have needed to be pumped from one of the rivers into Ilion. [...]


[...] It was often easier for engineers to lay pipeline(s) across slight depressions and rely upon the pressure from the elevation head to force the water in the pipeline(s) out of the depression and back to a point where gravity flow could take place. Inverted siphons were also utilized, though primarily in the western part of the Empire. (Figure 10) Pipe sections used for pressurized sections, like those in a siphon, would have been similar to pipes used elsewhere with the exception of thicker walls and greater flange and cuff lengths so as to ensure the pipe's ability to withstand the increased pressure. [...]


[...] Many of the same issues that the Roman engineers faced in the design and construction of an aqueduct, such as water quality and quantity, persist today. The immense labor involved in the construction of an aqueduct is a testament to how pivotal a supply of water was to a Roman city's well- being. The pioneering work by the Romans in hydraulic design acted as the starting point for the great technological improvements in water supply and distribution that we enjoy [...]

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