Handbook of Ancient Water Technology

By Örjan Wikander | Go to book overview

I.1
GEOLOGICAL BACKGROUND, CLIMATE,
WATER RESOURCES

R.G. Thomas

The development of water technology by ancient man was a long complex process of observation, changing needs and trial and error solutions, with the occasional innovation. Water technology at a particular time and place was not developed in isolation from agriculture, construction and other phases of life. We may classify these activities today into various categories, but in the past it is likely that the digging of a well or channel was simply part of survival, using skills and experience available in the group. Since water is a basic human need and these needs grew, so the potential requirement for heavy labor provided a strong incentive for invention. Most of us forget the hard work required by our bodies to lift a few buckets of water one or two meters from a well, or to dig a small 50 m long ditch to irrigate a garden. At an even more fundamental level, most of us would not be able to find drinking water in large parts of Europe if there were not so many developed sources available. Garbrecht (1987b) presents a fascinating overview of the engineering aspects of the best known early civilizations as well as a brief summary of ancient Rome's water system.

Even today most of the more arid regions are not inhabited, in spite of sophisticated technology which enables water to be provided almost anywhere. Water technology operates against a backdrop of geology, soils and climate, which our ancestors were certainly aware of but were probably too busy to classify or even name.

The modern archeologist, however, has a vast and ever increasing store of knowledge to draw upon, a store which is so vast that some researchers in the various fields have used the expression “quarrying” the literature. There is now no locality in the world without some kind of topographic, geologic, and soil map. Of course the precision of these maps depends on their scale and on the way that the data was obtained and presented. Furthermore, the water resources of most of the region have been assessed and are available as maps and reports. Discharges of many rivers have been measured over

-3-

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Handbook of Ancient Water Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction ix
  • I. Water-Supply 1
  • I.1 - Geological Background, Climate, Water Resources 3
  • I.2 - Collection of Water 21
  • I.3 - Wells 29
  • I.4 - Qanats 35
  • I.5 - Aqueducts 39
  • I.6 Engineering Works 67
  • I.7 Purity of Water 95
  • Ii. Urban Use 101
  • Ii.1 - Urban Water Transport and Distribution 103
  • Ii.2 - Industrial Uses of Water* 127
  • Ii.3 - Drainage and Sanitation* 151
  • Iii. Irrigation and Rural Drainage 181
  • Iii.1 - Irrigation 183
  • Iii.2 - Water-Lifting 217
  • Iii.3 - Land Drainage 303
  • Iv. Larger Hydraulic Infringements on Nature 319
  • Iv.1 - Canals 321
  • Iv.2 - Reservoirs and Dams 331
  • V. Water-Power 341
  • V.1 - Theoretical Hydraulics, Automata, and Water Clocks 343
  • V.2 - The Water-Mill 371
  • V.3 - Industrial Applications of Water-Power 401
  • Vi. Water as an Aesthetic and Recreational Element 411
  • Vi.1 - Fountains and Nymphaea 413
  • Vi.2 - Water Landscaping 453
  • Vi.3 - The Water Management of Greek and Roman Baths 467
  • Vii. Water Legislation in the Ancient World (C. 2200 B.C.–c. A.D. 500) 537
  • Vii.1 - Mesopotamia, the Hittites and the Arabian Peninsula 539
  • Vii.2 - Egypt 551
  • Vii.3 - The Greek World 557
  • Vii.4 - The Roman World 575
  • Viii. Historical Context. the Socio-Economic Background and Effects 605
  • Viii.1 - The Neolithic and Bronze Ages 607
  • Viii.2 - The Iron Age, and the Archaic and Classical Periods 617
  • Viii.3 - The Hellenistic Period 631
  • Viii.4 - The Roman Empire 649
  • References 661
  • Indices 703
  • 2. Index of Personal Names 713
  • 3. Geographical Index 718
  • 4. Subject Index 735
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