Ancient engineers saved hundreds of kilometers of aqueducts from mud during the Byzantine Empire
(ORDO NEWS) — The Valens Aqueduct was once one of the longest aqueducts of its time.
By the 5th century, the inhabitants of Constantinople received water through a canal system named after Emperor Valens, which was over 500 kilometers long.
Scientists finally managed to find out exactly how the engineers of the past managed to ensure the purity of such a fantastic structure at that time.
Aqueducts are long channels that brought clean fresh water to large cities. Of course, such a colossal system had to be maintained, but how exactly did people manage to do this in ancient times?
Aqueduct extended up to 120 kilometers from the city and was intended to supply its inhabitants with fresh water.
The system included large stone canals (large enough for an adult to walk through), 90 large bridges, and numerous tunnels up to 5 kilometers long.
By collecting and examining calcium carbonate deposits, the research team was able to assess the accumulation of limescale in the aqueduct.
Samples suggest that the plaque took less than 30 years to form, although the canals are known to have been in operation for over seven centuries, until at least the 1100s.
“This means that during the Byzantine Empire, the entire aqueduct had to be systematically cleared of deposits, and this happened even shortly before it actually stopped working,” said paleoclimatologist Gül Sürmelihindi from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany.
One part of the channel suggested to the researchers how the work was carried out: it was a 50-kilometer section of the central part of the aqueduct, consisting of two channels located one above the other and sometimes crossing with the help of special bridges.
The two-channel approach allowed engineers to clean the aqueduct without completely stopping the flow of water to Constantinople for several weeks or even months – which would obviously cause serious problems with the water supply.
One channel was blocked, cleaned, and then this operation was repeated with another, and so on in a circle.
Scale may have ended up clogging the slow waterways, so the researchers believe thorough cleaning of the channels was a common practice.
Another potential contaminant of the water taken from the dams was clay, which also had to be thoroughly cleaned.
The entire network of aqueducts was actually built in sections over several centuries and is a magnificent example of the advanced construction technologies of the Roman Empire.
Although the Romans themselves did not invent aqueducts, they did make them larger and more complex than ever before.
In those days, there were many more aqueducts and canals leading to Roman cities – some of these cities received more water in ancient times than they do now.
More than 2,000 long Roman aqueducts are known to date, and researchers believe that some have yet to be found.
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