Hydraulic Engineering and Water Supply

Andrew I. Wilson

in The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199734856
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Hydraulic Engineering and Water Supply

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
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This article discusses the considerable Greek and Roman expertise in hydraulic engineering. Wells were the earliest and simplest form of artificial water supply. Most domestic wells, and many public wells, were either circular or square, just large enough for the digger. Cisterns were developed as an alternative to wells. Cisterns of all kinds were waterproofed by the application of mortar linings. The development and spread of qanats shows the availability and use at an early date of complex and difficult engineering water schemes in communities outside the main civic centers. The public fountains and the public baths are also described. The level of hydraulic development achieved in the ancient world is one of the key reasons why the regions making up the Roman Empire saw a greater degree of urban settlement at that period than at any subsequent time before the eighteenth century.

Keywords: hydraulic engineering; water supply; wells; cisterns; qanats; public fountains; public baths; Greece; Rome

Article.  15220 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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