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VIRTUAL - The Old and the New: Water Engineering at the Extremes of Time

March 30, 2021 @ 6:00 pm EDT Eastern Time

This is an online event.

AIA Society: Tampa Bay

Lecturer: Milorad Nikolic

In the past decades a trend has emerged in classical archaeology to re-examine the conspicuous remains of ancient structures from an engineering point of view. The Hellenistic and Roman aqueducts are a prominent example. Although crucial to the very existence of cities, the exact function of some features found in ancient aqueducts is still poorly understood. Mysterious towers, for example, that were built at considerable expense in material and labor into the pipelines of systems such as those at Aspendos or Craponne have puzzled modern scholars for over a century. Other pipelines, such as those at Pergamum, Smyrna, or Alatri, were deliberately laid out to incorporate intermediate hills into their course. Relevant ancient literary sources such as Vitruvius, Pliny the Elder, and Frontinus have been studied carefully in search for answers to the technical problems, but without significant success. More recently, constantly improving computer performance has made it possible to simulate these water-supply systems with commercially available Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software packages. The application of this most recent computer-aided engineering tool to a number of ancient pipelines can yield insights into Hellenistic and Roman technology that go far beyond any explanation based on Vitruvius, Frontinus, or Pliny, and represents a transformation in the manner in which research in classical archaeology is conducted.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Kessener H. P. M. 2016. “The Aspendos Siphon and Roman Hydraulics,” in Wiplinger G. (ed), De Aquaeductu atque Aqua Urbium Lyciae Pamphiliae Pisidiae. Leiden: BABESCH Supplement 27.

Ortloff, C. R. and D. P. Crouch. 2001. “The Urban Water Supply and Distribution System of the Ionian City of Ephesos in the Roman Imperial Period.” Journal of Archaeological Science 28: 843-60.

Ortloff, C. R. and A. Kassinos. 2003. “Computational Fluid Dynamics Investigation of the Hydraulic Behaviour of the Roman Inverted Siphon System at Aspendos, Turkey.” Journal of Archaeological Science 30: 417-28.

Father Edward A. Bader Lecture

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March 30, 2021
6:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


Davide Tanasi


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