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Once Again, I Am Amazed By the Ancient Romans

In April I became old. I mean really, really old. I might even be called ancient. But not as ancient as the Romans. You see, in April I had my 60th birthday. The day fell a week short of a twice-delayed waterhammer conference held in The Netherlands.

When my wife asked me what I wanted to do for my 60th birthday, I responded "Since we will already be in Europe for a conference, let's go to Italy!". And we did, for three weeks. There I was once again amazed by Roman hydraulic technology.

Before The Netherlands and Italy, on my actual birthday, my wife and I were in England. We got to spend a day with AFT's UK Channel Partner, Iconic Solutions. We spent my actual birthday on a walking tour of London with a British history professor (thanks Tim!). The walking tour was focused on the Roman history of London. We spent the latter half of my birthday touring Westminster Abbey (thanks Ian!) about a month before the coronation of King Charles.

We did not arrive in Italy until two weeks after my actual birthday. My wife studied history in college so she was in heaven. We scheduled a day at the infamous cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. In late April we had an all-day private tour of these cities (thanks Alberto!). I was amazed to find out that Pompeii had piped water and pressure control systems! We are talking 1st century now and before. Whoa!

I have written previously about Roman pipe technology in the Middle East, but it was made of stone. Pompeii's system was made of metal pipes. To be specific, lead pipes – which are now of course known to cause health problems. Prior to Pompeii, I had no idea that the Romans made metal pipes. I thought their metalworking technology was focused entirely on weaponry. Nope!

In Fig. 1a you can see, if you look really closely, a lead pipe sticking out of the wall in one of my photos. If you need some help try the blow-up photo in Fig. 1b. For good measure, Roman engineers built numerous water pressure control towers around the city. Fig. 2 shows another photo I took of one of the towers. Fig. 3 shows a photo I found online of a Pompeii region and era water manifold device.

Further searching today uncovered a 2015 thesis I have only had time to skim through which documents the numerous water control towers around Pompeii The water-supply system in Roman Pompeii. Incredible.

I was fortunate in London to get Professor Tim's email address. While he is not a professor of technology history or even Roman history, he recommended this book to me:

From the above link, I found some more books on Roman hydraulics:

I did not find any ancient Roman engineers who use AFT Fathom but I will keep looking!

Figure 1a. A photo I took in Pompeii, Italy, on April 24 of a wall with a lead pipe protruding.
Figure 1b. Blow up of Fig. 1a showing the lead pipe in the center of the photo.
Figure 2. A photo I took in Pompeii, Italy, on April 24 of a water pressure control tower in the city center.
Figure 3. A Pompeii region and era manifold device I found on
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Tuesday, 26 September 2023
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