Ancient Romans

Pont Julien, 3 BC Roman arch bridge

The Roman Empire was responsible for some amazing engineering developments. From about 27 BC until 467 AD, the Romans were moving people and equipment throughout much of what is now Europe and Asia. They fought great battles and built impressive fortifications and roads. They built cities with comfortable heated houses, enormous entertainment venues as well as shops, fitness clubs and fine restaurants.

They didn’t have any power tools or machinery like we have today. The materials were pretty basic – wood, stone, some metal. The main sources of power were people or animals.

They were able to build some impressive and innovative structures that are still standing today. Some are still being used 2,000 years after they were built.

  • In ancient Rome, Thermae (from Greek thermos, “hot”) were facilities for bathing. Thermae usually refers to large bath complexes, while balneae were smaller-scale facilities, public or private, that existed in great numbers throughout Rome. Most Roman cities had at least one, which were centers for bathing and socializing. Roman bath-houses were also provided for private villas, town houses, and forts. They were supplied with water from an adjacent river or stream, or by an aqueduct. The water could be heated by a log fire before being channeled into the hot bathing rooms.
  • Pont du Gard – an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gardon River in southern France. It is part of the Nîmes aqueduct, a 31 mile-long structure. The bridge has three tiers of arches, standing 160 ft high. The whole aqueduct descends in height by only 56 ft over its entire length, while the bridge descends by less than 1 inch – a gradient of only 1 in 3,000 – which is indicative of the great precision that Roman engineers were able to achieve using only simple technology. The aqueduct formerly carried an estimated 53,000,000 US gal of water a day to the fountains, baths and homes of the people of Nîmes. Water Resources Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering, Hydrology, Structural Engineering
  • Romans in Britain – The Romans brought many new inventions with them. They were the first to use concrete, bricks and the arch. They built underfloor heating systems and decorated houses with fine mosaic floors and wall-paintings. They created many large industries, like potteries, and mined many metals, like gold, silver, lead, copper, tin and iron. They also built an enormous network of roads, and even built a few canals so they could transport goods by boat.

Engineering ideas

  • aquaduct, bridge, arch, gradient,