ROMAN ENGINEERING PROJECTS


[B21] [B22] (B21, B22) Did the Roman's have a "knack" for technical projects? They certainly had great interest in engineering projects and an ability to apply their knowledge in solving problems of architecture and urbanism. But in so far as a knack implies an acquired ability, they also had the great good fortune to have their Etruscan neighbors as mentors early in their history. Between 616-510 B.C., an Etruscan dynasty ruled Rome, thereby establishing formative influence on Roman art, architecture, and religion. Etruscan kings undertook major engineering projects such as draining the swampy valleys on which much of early Rome was built and providing the city with its first civic and hygienic substructures such as roads, drains, sewage lines, and fresh water supply. The Great Sewer (Cloaca Maxima) was a project started by the last Etruscan kings although much of the vaulting now visible may be a work of the late Republic.

A basic standard of public services and amenities became commonplace in Roman cities. These included paved roads and bridges, functioning sewage and drainage systems, copious sources of water through the creation of reservoirs, aqueducts, canals, and dams. They also instigated a rational building code aimed at creating a safe and healthy built environment. In such a civic matrix, institutions of religion, culture, recreation and hygiene -- temples, theaters, libraries, baths, circuses and amphitheaters -- flourished and provided a sense of shared values and experiences. As Roman law defined and protected the rights and privileges if its citizens, Roman planning and architectural technology insured them a wholesome and civilized microcosmos, an urban world of shared experience and expectations, the stamp of romanitas, from Syria to Scotland.


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