Roman Aqueduct, Segovia Spain Roman Aqueduct Istanbul, Turkey Roman Aqueduct, Pont du Gard France


Water is the lifeblood of any city, past or present. The Romans recognized that they could not possibly expand their empire without it and established an ingenious method of delivering water to any town or city of their choosing. They did this through the creation of aqueducts. Over the course of the empire, thousands of miles of aqueducts crisscrossed the terrain, supplying millions of people. It truly allowed the empire to grow unlike any other before or after.
The process of aqueduct building was complicated, often taking years of land surveys and isolation of a favored water source. Once the surveys and choice of source were completed, the project then went on to engineers, who had to not only begin building the aqueduct, but also had to factor in a gradient ( slope) for the aqueduct. Without the gradient, or with a small miscalculation in it, the water would not flow down the waterway, and thus could not be utilized.



Seeing as how aqueducts took years to build, a simple occurrence of ‘bad math’ could harm countless people depending on the water it would deliver for untold amounts of time. It is for these reasons that the utmost care was given to their construction, which is why many of them are still visible (and in use) to this day. However, the greatest display of this technology is by far what was established in the City of Rome itself. Rome , at its height, housed one-million people.

To understand the scope of that number, no other city on Earth would have one million people in it until London circa the mid 1800s! Regardless, Rome needed to have a constant flow of fresh water and established such by constructing eleven aqueducts. The following is a list of all the aqueducts Rome constructed over its illustrious history, along with dates of completion:

Aqua Appia 312 BC
Anio Vetus 272 - 269 BC
Aqua Marcia 144 - 140 BC
Aqua Tepula 125 BC

Aqua Julia 33 BC
Aqua Virgo 19 BC
Aqua Alsietina 2 BC ? 
Aqua Claudia 38 - 52 AD

Anio Novus 38 - 52 AD
Aqua Traiana 109 AD
Arcus Alexandriana 226 AD

Establishing all of these aqueducts is an amazing feat of engineering. However, they are only the aqueducts that fed into Rome , the city. The Roman Empire had extensive aqueduct systems (meaning more than one aqueduct) in at least twenty- one cities other than Rome . The numbers are staggering. It is also important to note that the water provided and available per person far exceeds numbers people in the Western world currently enjoy. 

 But, the true marvel of their accomplishments is that many of their aqueducts are still standing and in use today. Some of the best preserved aqueducts can be found in Pont du Gard, in southern France, Segovia, Spain and The Valens Aqueduct in Istanbul. Current pictures below.