The unit both directly and indirectly addresses a number of local, state, and national standards. The harnessing and management of sufficient amounts of clean water for a large urban population requires a close connection between humans and their environment. As Rome grew from a small community on the banks of the Tiber River to a major urban center of over one million people, innovation was needed to tap into additional sources of water. Reliance on the Tiber as the primary source of fresh water and waste water depository diminished during the 4th century as Romans constructed its first aqueduct, the Aqua Appia. The story of the Aqua Appia shows the marvel of moving water over long distances of varied terrain- discreetly. It also shows how those who lived in the Roman countryside masterfully utilized the fresh water springs.
Study of the story of constructing the discreet and crude Aqua Appia, the bold Marcia, or the majestic Claudia will allow students to make connections that will help them understand the development of human culture and its relationship to geography and environment. (Content Standard One) One story has it that even the talented Roman engineers trying to find the source of a spring to build the Aqua Virgo needed the help of a local village child who had been born there
The body of work that comprises the construction of Rome's eleven aqueducts and other aqueducts throughout its empire is an important legacy that continues to influence water supply technology today. Although temporarily obscured during the Middle Ages, the principles and techniques employed by Roman builders are fundamental for today's engineers. Building on the technology learned from the Etruscans, Roman engineers sufficiently mastered moving water through different elevations through building techniques that showed a mastery of hydraulics. The siphon and arch allowed builders to transverse steep ravines. Raised tanks limited head and controlled the velocity and inertia of water. Tools such as the t-bar and chorobates, or water level for leveling, the groma and dioptra for determining site lines were all essential for surveying. There function is still practiced albeit with advanced electronic and mechanical tools. Today fresh water is transported to New York City from upstate New York over a distance of many miles. In 1837 work on a 125 mile Catskill Aqueduct project began the tradition of bringing clean water to Manhattan from watersheds in the Catskills.
In California, open aqueducts move storm water away from roads and population centers. Others bring clean water to cities from outlying mountains. Students who explore even the most general characteristics of the development of aqueduct architecture from the Assyrians to the Romans and beyond will see the global impacts of classical civilization at work (Content standard three)
By examining the achievements of the Romans and our modern society in regard to harnessing and managing access to clean water, students will be able to evaluate the impact of these achievements for the future. Students should be able to make connections from the past to the present and to the future particularly when they are exposed to the growing challenges of providing access to clean water for everyone in all parts of the world. This challenge has been clearly annunciated by the United Nations in their Year of Fresh water campaign of 2003.
The use of Roman engineering techniques to build aqueducts in what are now France, Spain, Israel, and Britain shows the political and economic structures of empires (Content Standard Four). Having students examine examples of Roman aqueducts across Europe and the Middle East will allow students to examine the impact of cultural diffusion from Empires into surrounding cultures and vice versa (content standard five)