The end of Roman Aqueducts - Fall of Rome
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The End of Aqueducts

Segovia aqueduct
Aqueduct at Segovia in eastern Spain

Roman engineers built aqueducts all over the Roman Empire, from Syria to England. All Roman towns pretty much got clean drinking water from these aqueducts. But in villages, where most Roman people lived, there were no aqueducts, and people often drank dirty water from the nearest river, and many women and children spent hours every day carrying water from the river or the nearest well in clay pots.

People kept on using aqueducts until the 400s AD, when the fall of the Roman Empire in Western Europe meant that most towns became much smaller, and were able to get enough water from wells.

ostia well

By the 400s AD in the Roman town of Ostia, the town had gotten so much smaller that they didn't need to keep this street clear anymore, and they put their well right in the middle of the street!

Learn by doing: learn where your water comes from and how it gets to you
More about sewage systems

Bibliography and further reading about Roman aqueducts:

Roman Roads and Aqueducts, by Don Nardo (2000). Easy reading.

City : A Story of Roman Planning and Construction, by David Macaulay (1983). Brilliant!

Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply, by Trevor Hodge (2002). Clear and complete.

More about Aqueducts
Sewage Systems
Roman Architecture
Ancient Rome
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Learn more about Roman aqueducts

Build your own model aqueduct (the aqueduct at Segovia in Spain) a


Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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Now that the weather's nice, try some of these outdoor activities! How about bicycle polo, or archery for a Medieval Islam day? Or kite flying or making a compass for a day in Medieval China? How about making a shaduf for a day in Ancient Egypt? Holding an Ancient Greek Olympic Games or a medieval European tournament? Building a Native American wickiup?