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We continue our examination of ancient plumbing techniques by looking to the most well-known and influential civilizations: the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.

 

Ancient Egypt 2500 BCE
baths of Kom el Dikka
The baths of Kom el Dikka, Egypt

The ancient Egyptians created the first copper pipes.  Because water was scarce, the Egyptians dug wells that were up to 300 feet deep.  Crop irrigation used a complex system of canals, dams, and sluices.  Water wheels were invented in ancient Egypt and used in conjunction with shadufs to raise water from the wells and to irrigate their crops.  There were many public bathhouses, as well as private bathhouses for the wealthy.  The ancient Egyptians went so far as to build functional bathrooms for their dead.

 

 

Minoan fountain at Delos
Minoan fountain at Delos
Ancient Crete/Minoa 3000 BCE – 1000 BCE

Bathrooms in the royal palace had hot and cold running water, as well as ceramic bathtubs.   Terra cotta pipes used in their drainage systems enabled odors to be siphoned away from the latrines.  Open top channel systems drained storm water into the sewers.  The first flushing toilets used rain water collected in cisterns.

 

 

 

Ancient Greece 500 BCE – 300 BCE
bathtub at Nestor's palace
bathtub at Nestor’s palace, near Pylos, Greece

The Greeks improved many of the Minoan inventions and helped to make them part of everyday life.  Hot and cold running water and bathtubs were commonplace, provided by aqueducts.  Overhead pipes and shower heads installed at the site of the Olympic Games enabled athletes to shower.

 

 

Ancient Roman aqueduct
Ancient Roman aqueduct
Ancient Rome 800 BCE – 300 CE

The term “plumbing” actually originated with the Romans.  Plumus in Latin means lead.   The Romans used lead for their pipe work.  These pipes took water from the mountains and carried it underground into the Roman cities.  Lead pipes carried water into the Roman baths.  These pipes provided hot water heated by wood furnaces.  The bath houses also had elaborate steam rooms.  Lead pipes carried waste water into the Tiber River.  There were public latrines, in addition to the public bath houses.  Some of the aqueducts built by the Romans are still in use today.  In fact, the famed Trevi fountain in Rome is still fed by aqueduct water.

The Romans represented the high point of ancient plumbing technology.  With the fall of the Roman Empire in 410 CE came a standstill in plumbing technology for many, many years.

Roman lead pipe Ostia Antica
Roman lead pipe Ostia Antica

 

Don’t let your plumbing come to standstill!!  Call Acadian Plumbing and let us keep your pipes flowing!

 

 

Sources: https://www.qssupplies.co.uk/history-of-plumbing-timeline.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plumbing#History, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhkxD6bD2AY, https://egypt.mrdonn.org/irrigation.html, https://www.plumbingsupply.com/pmegypt.html, https://www.metrorod.co.uk/news/ancient-history-plumbing-sewers/, https://www.copper.org/publications/newsletters/discover/2005/march/article2.html, http://www.romanaqueducts.info/q&a/11stillinuse.htm



As a general rule, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about functional bathrooms or ancient plumbing innovations.  But indoor plumbing has a longer history than you might think.  In fact, the history of plumbing goes back to ancient times.

 

Ancient Pakistan/India
a drain at Lothal, India
a drain at Lothal, India

The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization found in South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE until 1300 BCE.  Standardized earthen pipe systems found in their urban settlements are one of the earliest examples of ancient plumbing.  Wells within buildings and drains in the floors of bathing areas are some early innovations.  In addition, they had bathrooms with septic tanks, very similar to modern day bathrooms.

 

Ancient China

Earthen pipes used as part of sewer systems helped with both rain water and waste water in Chinese cities as far back as 4000 years ago.  Similarly, hollow bamboo reed carried fresh water to and from ancient salt mines.

Ancient Mesopotamia
Shaduf
Shaduf

The city of Babylon was one of the most magnificent cities of ancient times.  King Nebuchadnezzar II, around 600 BCE, had an extravagant palace with separate bathrooms and elaborate drainage.  He even had latrines with raised seats all connected to a covered sewage system.  One of the Ancient Wonders of the World is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, reputed to belong of King Nebuchadnezzar II.  While the location of the Gardens remains disputed, there are numerous accounts of the Gardens themselves, as well as gardens throughout the region.  All of these gardens would have needed an extensive irrigation system to deliver water to the gardens from a nearby water source.  A combination of canals, dikes, pipes, and shadufs (a wooden beam with a fulcrum and a bucket on one end used to lift water to elevated troughs) were used to deliver water where it was needed.

Many of these ancient plumbing systems have crumbled with time and are no longer functional.  Let Acadian Plumbing help you keep your plumbing system in top condition.  Call us today for all of your plumbing needs.

 

 

Sources: https://www.qssupplies.co.uk/history-of-plumbing-timeline.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plumbing#History, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhkxD6bD2AY, https://www.ancient.eu/Hanging_Gardens_of_Babylon/, http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Hy-La/Irrigation-Systems-Ancient.html

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