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Ancient Roman aqueduct and road

Ancient Roman aqueduct and road

The excellent road and aqueduct system covering the whole empire reflects well the development of the Roman civilisation.



water supply, road network, Via Appia, Rome, Római Birodalom, aqueduct, province, transportation, edifice, Claudius, milestone, pillar, arch, antiquity, empire, history

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  • What was the estimated total length of the road network in the ancient Roman Empire?
  • What covered \n Roman roads?
  • How long was one ancient\nRoman mile?
  • How were the distances of the nearest cities indicated?
  • What is the structure of ancient Roman roads similar to?
  • Who had the first Roman aqueduct constructed?
  • Which was the first public road in ancient Rome?
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  • Where are NO remains of ancient Roman roads today?
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  • Fill in the blankspace! ‘All roads lead to ….‘
  • What was the most important thing provided by aqueducts?
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  • Which of the following statements is NOT true for ancient Roman aqueducts?
  • Where was the water flowing in the multi-storey aqueducts?
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  • In which present-day city are the remains of the Valens Aqueduct?
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  • What was the other way to convey water besides the stone canals?
  • In which present-day country are the remains of the aqueduct of Segovia?
  • In which present-day country is the Pont-du-Gard situated?


Roman aqueduct

  • lower row of arches
  • middle row of arches
  • top row of arches
  • pillar
  • arch
  • attic



Cutaway of aqueduct

  • lower row of arches
  • middle row of arches
  • top row of arches
  • scaffolding
  • pillar
  • arch
  • attic
  • U-shaped canal


Roman road

Cutaway of Roman road

  • width: 1-7 m
  • stone base (statumen) 30 cm
  • smaller stones (ruderato) 25 cm
  • layer of pebbles (nucleus) 25 cm
  • stone 20 cm
  • curbstones
  • milestone (miliari)


The greatness of ancient Roman architecture is demonstrated not only in the magnificent urban buildings, but also in the network of roads and aqueducts.

The cities of the Roman Empire were linked by a nearly 85-thousand-km-long network of roads, or viae, that made transportation and trade a great deal easier. Milestones divided the roads and indicated the nearest settlements; 1 Roman mile measured about 1.5 km.

Roads were constructed similarly to modern roads: after the engineers determined where the road should go and drew up precise plans, the road bed was excavated and the edge stones were put in place. Then the road bed was filled with layers of sand, large stones, small stones and pebbles. The road was finally covered with stone tiles. When completed, it was 1-7 m wide and could be used by pedestrians, horse riders, carts and chariots. These roads were so well constructed that some are still being used two millennia later.

Like the first Roman road, the Via Appia, built between Rome and Brindisi, the first Roman aqueduct was also commissioned by Appius Claudius in 312 BC to provide the inhabitants of Rome with drinking water. Later, aqueducts were also built in the provinces. The most spectacular aqueducts were bridges with pillars, arches and several levels. Water was collected from springs and conveyed through a covered canal on top of the aqueduct (or a lead or ceramic pipe running inside) to the distributor and storage tanks in the various settlements. Water could be carried over long distances, even in difficult circumstances. This, of course, required accurate planning and precise workmanship. The lower levels of the aqueducts were also used as roads. Notable Roman aqueducts include the Pont du Gard aqueduct near Nîmes in France, and the Aqueduct of Segovia in Spain.

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