221 History: Blog Questions: Ancient Roman City Planning and Invention

01 Feb

Ancient Roman city planning was critical to the growth and development of the Roman Empire. The grid pattern they used to span out from a central forum area was typically constructed along a river. The use of the grid plan allowed all roads of a city to lead to the heart of the city where you would find municipal buildings, a basilica, temples, baths, markets for goods, food and water. Some of the wealthier Romans had water coming directly to their homes but in times of rationing they would be required to purchase water at the market. The Romans developed an amazing system of aqueducts which transported water from as far away as thirty miles. The aqueduct system constructed of arches supported by stone piers were built to accommodate the height of the hills and keep the water flowing downward. The luxurious flow moved toward the city and supplied water to private homes, public baths and a system of fountains that would allow everyone to have ample water. If there was a drop in rainfall and the water supply was low they even had the ability to turn off water flow to the homes of the private citizens first, the public baths next and finally the fountains. A wall surrounded the city for protection from barbarians wandering the countryside and outside the city wall there was a trench dug to ensure the protection of Pomarium, a Roman god. Gates in the walls opened up to the forum from all sides of the city. The pattern developed in the first Roman cities was copied over and over as the empire expanded and the orderly roads, buildings and baths reflected the glory of Rome. The glory of Rome seems to be even more luxurious at the baths. The invention of the Roman Bath with the radiant floor heating was a marvel of the time and remains such a relevant and awesome idea that it is still in use today in some structures. Many homes today are built using this Roman technology. The system of moving air from a wood burning furnace to area of lesser temperature allowed many areas in the bath for hot and cooler use. It must have made winter bearable to be able to go take a nice hot bath! Concrete was another amazing, city-building, empire-building invention that changed the world. Having the ability to make a mold and make almost any shape you like to build with was a very handy thing to have in your empire building arsenal. The use of concrete in building churches, homes, municipal buildings still has us in awe today.

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Posted by on February 1, 2013 in History 221 Class Notes


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