Aqueduct - Definition. Ancient Greek vs Ancient Roman Aqueducts. Greek Aqueducts in Samos.
AQUEDUCT, a conduit or channel for the conveyance of water (Lat. aquaeductus), but commonly a structure of masonry erected to conduct water across a valley at a high level, though structures of this kind would be more properly termed aqueduct bridges.
This distinction it is necessary to bear in mind, more particularly when dealing with the undertakings of this class carried out by the Greeks and Romans respectively, because, from the fact of the former having apparently seldom if ever constructed aqueduct bridges, it has been usual to institute a very unfavourable comparison between them and the Romans, who, with imperial disdain of obstacles, furnished the cities of their immense empire with a series of constructions of this kind for the supply of water, which still in their ruins excite our astonishment.
True to the difference in national genius the Greeks, following the analogy of nature, in which in their own country they saw the water collected in the hills passing for miles along subterranean courses, and issuing in cool fountains at the coast, adapted their system of conduits to the physical formation of a district, cutting tunnels and canals, rather than bridging over valleys, and as a consequence no conspicuous monument of theirsystem now remains. But even if what they did was so little as to justify Strabo (v. p. 235) in charging them with neglect in this matter as compared with the carefulness of the Romans, it is still clear from the records that they accomplished much, and that in this, as in other respects, they were the instructors of the Romans. It is here to be premised that the term aqueduct applies only to the conveyance of such water as was used for drinking or other useful purposes, and not to the draining of marshes, though in both cases the works may often have been of the same kind.
The insufficiency of water, supplied by natural springs and cisterns hewn in the rock, which in an early age had satisfied the small communities of Greece, had become a pressing public question by the time of the Tyrants, of whom Polycrates of Samus [Samos] and Pisistratus of Athens distinguished their rule by extensive works to meet the exigencies of their states. For this purpose the former obtained the services of Eupalinus, an engineer celebrated for the skill with which he had carried out the works for the water supply of Megara, under the direction of the Tyrant Theagenes (circa 625 B.C.). At Samus [Samos] the difficulty lay in a hill which rose between the town and the water source. Through this hill Eupalinus [Eupalinos] cut a tunnel 8 feet broad, 8 feet high, and 4200 feet long, building within the tunnel a channel 3 feet broad and 11 ells deep. The water, flowing by an accurately reckoned declivity, and all along open to the fresh air, was received at the lower end by a conduit of masonry, and so led into the town, where it supplied fountains, pipes, baths, cloacae, &c., and ultimately passed into the harbour.
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Aqueduct - Table of Contents