Hydraulic engineering analysis of Roman water infrastructure: a review of practice and possibilities

Martin Crapper*, Davide Motta, Duncan Keenan-Jones, Maria Monteleone

*Corresponding author for this work

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A short review is presented covering English-language publications where quantitative engineering analysis has been used to study and gain insight into how ancient Roman and Mediterranean water systems functioned. The review covers work on using technical engineering perspectives to try and understand the geometrical layout of water systems, quantitative work of a type readily accomplished by undergraduate civil engineering students, such as calculating the flow capacity of aqueducts and other conduits of known dimensions, and more involved studies using computational techniques usually applied by specialist engineers in research or industry. It is concluded that the many different levels of analyses employed have given insight into how Roman water systems worked, for example the amount of water they delivered, and the kinds of issues their designers and operators might have faced. It is hoped that this review will inspire further interdisciplinary study in Archaeohydrology, using modern engineering techniques to amplify and extend the story of Roman water systems told by archaeologists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-19
Number of pages15
JournalWater History
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


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