The aqueducts were just one way of providing the water needs of a community. In order to tap the existing water sources of the vast geographical and climatic terrain occupied by the Roman empire, ingenious, and tradiationally proven methods, such as dams, cisterns, siphons, and water-lifting wheels were also used. In the arid desert climate of North Africa many of the present-day oases, such as the Oasis near Gabes in Tunisia had been developed by Roman engineers (A85, A84). The remains of a Roman dam built of blocks of sandstone improved the natural desert source and created a large reservoir of water (A83).




One of the best preserved and most impressive operations in taming a torrential and uneven waterway is the dam built across the wide and hauntingly beautiful valley of River Rhyndacus, near Aezane in Asia Minor (A82, A81). The remains of this curving, colossal ashlar dam can be seen some six miles southwest of the town. This dam also serves as a bridge connecting the main highways across the valley (B18, B17) At several points arched openings -- like the arch of a bridge but smaller -- allow for the passage and regulation of the water (B16). The original collecting basin, or the artificial lake, behind the dam is now submerged under the much larger modern Turkish irrigation dam (B15). This illustrates well that just like the network of Roman roads, Roman dams, too, served as viable and effective models of engineering for their modern counterparts.







Dams, catch-basins, and irrigation canals, tamed natural, and often unreliable, sources of water and provided a reliable and healthy source for drinking and agriculture. Roman city planners were also interested in exploiting water as a a decorative and functional element of urban design. Many Roman cities had pools, artificial lakes, and urban canals which were integrated into the city's overall water distribution and public fountain system. In Aezane, already mentioned, colonnades and public spaces lined both sides of the river which seems to have been developed as an urban artery just like a street. In Rome, during the reign of Augustus (c. 27B.C.-A.D.14), an artificial urban lake (the Stagnum) and a large canal (the Euripus) had been created as a part of the park-like development of the Campus Martius (Field of Mars), a large flat region of the city next to the Tiber river. Both the lake and the canal were supplied with fresh water by the aqueduct called Aqua Virgo. Nothing of this famous and extensive urban waterway remains, except in colorful descriptions in literature.

However, we are lucky to have a well-preserved and stunning example of a similar urban canal occupying the middle of a long colonnaded avenue in Perge, in Pamphylia, a province in southern Asia Minor (B14, B13). In the 2nd-century A.D., the magnificent colonnaded avenue, over one-third of a mile long, stretched between the city's South Gate and the rising ground of the acropolis on the north. This colonnade and its waterway found its visual culmination in a public fountain, arranged like a double-arched gate, nestled against the slope of the acropolis hill (B12, B11). One must imagine waters cascading down the elevated basin of the fountain, and flowing in gentle eddies and swirls against its marble-clad banks, down the middle of the colonnaded avenue, to a collecting pool at the south end of the avenue -- such an urbanistic feat, a functional convenience and a visual showcase for the community, could not have been possible without the Roman interest and competence in hydraulic technology.





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