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The Fall of the Roman Empire An essay on the effect of acqueducts in ancient Rome A basic fact of life humans need water to survive Therefore it is not surprising that water has played an important role in history All of the ancient civilizations including Rome had to deal with the problem of a steady water supply Romes solutions had both positive and negative results At first glance one would think that Roae would have no problem supplying water to her people After all the city was built on a river Why would water have to be brought into the city There were several reasons first of all river water is not known for its cleanliness It may do for irrigation but not for drinking Drinking water would either have be drawn up from wells or brought in to the cities from pure sources in the mountains However digging wells enough for several ten thousand people is not practical as wells need to be spaced far apart Thus the need for aqueducts Bringing water in from the mountains was no simple matter The easiest method of transporting water was gravity feed via a sloped channel or pipe However there were hills and valleys which must be crossed The Roman engineers used a variety of techniques to overcome these obstacles First the rate of descent for the channel must be determined Using geometry and trigonometry this is a relatively simple problem of triangulation Vetruvius said that each channel must be leveled with a fall of not less than half a foot in 100 feet These calculations indicate that the Romans had sufficient mathematical knowledge to undertake the aqueduct programs as well as engineering expertise Since the channel for the water must go in a straight line then the next problem was where to put the line The placement would have to take into account the changes in elevation along the course of the channel The
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