Handbook of Ancient Water Technology

By Örjan Wikander | Go to book overview
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Gemma C.M. Jansen

The more people came to live together in cities, the greater the need for water became. At a given moment the traditional and relatively simple methods of water supply, such as drawing it from wells or collecting rainwater, were no longer sufficient. That is why people started bringing in water from further away by means of aqueducts. Whereas at first the individual citizen had to make his own provision to obtain water, its supply over long distances went beyond his capabilities. For carrying out such a large-scale project it was imperative that there should be an adequate organisational structure, not only with regard to planning and construction but also regarding maintenance, supervision and repairs. These tasks were taken on by the municipal government.

This chapter discusses how the water, brought into the city by way of the aqueduct, reached its destination. By a network of pipes water was transported and distributed. Moreover, this network was designed in such a way as to be able to cope with changes in both supply and demand. To this end arrangements were made for the overflow and storage of water and especially these aspects (transport, distribution, overflow and storage) of the urban network in different ancient cities will be dealt with in this chapter.

Up till now, the urban water network has not been adequately examined. Most investigations concerning water supply focus on the long distance conduits and neglect to describe what happens after the water entered the city. It must be admitted, however, that it is not always possible to study the urban network. In the first place, to study this network one needs a city where a large part of the infrastructure, including buildings and private houses, has been excavated. Secondly, to reconstruct the complete system a substantial number of the water supply elements have to be excavated. A serious difficulty is, for example, the lack of waterpipes,1 because these connect

1 In particular wooden and lead pipes are missing. Wooden pipes have disappeared


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Handbook of Ancient Water Technology
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