The Aqueduct of Constantinople: Managing the longest water channel of the ancient world


Impression: The two-tale Kur?unlugerme Bridge, part of the aqueduct system of Constantinople: Two water channels passed around this bridge – a person previously mentioned the other.
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Credit score: picture/©: Jim Crow

Aqueducts are quite impressive examples of the artwork of design in the Roman Empire. Even today, they even now give us with new insights into aesthetic, realistic, and technical features of building and use. Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) investigated the longest aqueduct of the time, the 426-kilometer-extensive Aqueduct of Valens providing Constantinople, and discovered new insights into how this construction was managed back in time. It seems that the channels had been cleaned of carbonate deposits just a few decades prior to the web-site was abandoned.

The late Roman aqueduct furnished h2o for the inhabitants of Constantinople


The Roman Empire was in advance of its time in quite a few approaches, with a sturdy motivation to create infrastructure for its citizens which we nevertheless uncover fascinating currently. This features architecturally inspiring temples, theaters, and amphitheaters, but also a dense street community and impressive harbors and mines. “Nevertheless, the most floor-breaking technological accomplishment of the Roman Empire lies in its h2o administration, significantly its prolonged-distance aqueducts that sent drinking water to cities, baths, and mines,” mentioned Dr. Gül Sürmelihindi from the Geoarchaeology group at Mainz College. Aqueducts were not a Roman creation, but in Roman hands these long-length aqueducts developed more and thoroughly subtle during one particular of the largest empires in record.

Almost each individual city in the Roman Empire experienced an enough supply of fresh new running h2o, in some conditions actually with a more substantial quantity than is the scenario now. “These aqueducts are mainly recognised for their outstanding bridges, this sort of as the Pont du Gard in southern France, which are nevertheless standing today right after two millennia. But they are most outstanding because of the way difficulties in their construction have been solved, which would be challenging even for present day engineers,” explained JGU Professor Cees Passchier. A lot more than 2,000 lengthy-length Roman aqueducts are acknowledged to day, and many more are awaiting discovery. The research undertaken by Dr. Gül Sürmelihindi and her research staff focuses on the most magnificent late-Roman aqueduct, the water source traces of Constantinople, now Istanbul in current-day Turkey.

Carbonate deposits provide insights into Byzantine h2o management


In Advertisement 324, the Roman Emperor Constantine the Excellent built Constantinople the new cash of the Roman Empire. Though the city lies at the geopolitically vital crossroads of land routes and seaways, new water source was a trouble. A new aqueduct was consequently built to provide Constantinople from springs 60 kilometers to the west. As the town grew, this program was expanded in the 5th century to springs that lie even 120 kilometers from the city in a straight line. This gave the aqueduct a full duration of at minimum 426 kilometers, earning it the longest of the ancient entire world. The aqueduct consisted of vaulted masonry channels large enough to walk through, designed of stone and concrete, 90 substantial bridges, and quite a few tunnels up to 5 kilometers long.

Sürmelihindi and her group studied carbonate deposits from this aqueduct, i.e., the limescale that shaped in the functioning drinking water, which can be utilized to receive crucial information and facts about water management and the palaeoenvironment at that time. The scientists found that the full aqueduct technique only contained skinny carbonate deposits, symbolizing about 27 several years of use. From the annals of the town, even so, it is recognized that the aqueduct method labored for a lot more than 700 a long time, right until at minimum the 12th century. “This suggests the entire aqueduct should have been managed and cleaned of deposits during the Byzantine Empire, even soon prior to it ceased functioning,” described Sürmelihindi. Carbonate deposits can block the full drinking water supply and have to be taken out from time to time.

Double construction over 50 kilometers was probably designed for servicing


Despite the fact that the aqueduct is late Roman in origin, the carbonate located in the channel is from the Byzantine Middle Ages. This produced the scientists feel about probable cleaning and upkeep procedures – since cleansing and fixing a channel of 426 kilometers implies that it can not be utilised for weeks or months, while the town populace relies upon on its drinking water source. They then discovered that 50 kilometers of the central component of the h2o method is made double, with a single aqueduct channel above the other, crossing on two-tale bridges. “It is incredibly probable that this method was established up to allow for cleaning and maintenance operations,” claimed Passchier. “It would have been a high-priced but functional remedy.”

Unfortunately for the research group, it is no lengthier feasible to analyze the exact operation of the program. One of the most imposing bridges, that of Ballıgerme, was blown up with dynamite in 2020 by treasure hunters who erroneously considered they could find gold in the ruins.


Illustrations or photos:&#13


The 426-kilometer-extended aqueduct program of Constantinople&#13
sick./©: Cees Passchier

The Ballıgerme Bridge, portion of the aqueduct technique of Constantinople, which was wrecked by treasure hunters.&#13
image/©: Jim Crow


The two-tale Kurşunlugerme Bridge, section of the aqueduct method of Constantinople: Two drinking water channels passed in excess of this bridge – a single higher than the other.&#13
photo/©: Jim Crow


Carbonate deposit from the aqueduct method of Constantinople exhibiting close to 25 annual layers&#13
photograph/©: Cees Passchier

Dr. Gül Sürmelihindi in the most important h2o channel of the 426-kilometer-lengthy aqueduct system of Constantinople&#13
image/©: Cees Passchier

Associated backlinks:&#13 – Tectonics and Structural Geology group at the JGU Institute of Geosciences &#13 – Geoarchaeology group at the JGU Institute of Geosciences&#13 – JGU Institute of Geosciences

Read much more:&#13 – push launch “The hydraulics of the world’s first industrial plant: a special design in the Barbegal h2o mills” (13 Nov. 2020)&#13

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