Water Supply and Wastewater Management in Antiquity

One of the most ancient systems of wastewater management was constructed in Mohenjo-Daro near the river Indus (Pakistan) at about 1500 BC. Some centuries later, the river moved its course and obviously the town was given up and covered by sand during the following decades. In the 1930s and 1940s, this early high civilization was newly discovered. Private and public houses were equipped with toilets. Water used for washing and bathing as well as rain water flowed through special grooves into canals which were built with the necessary slope to transport the water into the river Indus. These installations demonstrate a high hygienic standard of an early culture.

The main wastewater collector, the Cloaca Maxima, in Rome presumably follows the course of an old ditch which was used at about 500 BC as a collector for wastewater. But soon it was insufficient to handle the flow of wastewater. Therefore, it was enlarged in the following centuries, extended and roofed over (Lamprecht 1988). Archaeological studies presented a nearly complete picture of its line starting from near the Forum Augustum and flowing into the Tiber near the Ponto Palatino. During the time of the emperors (31 BC to 193 AD), the canal could be traveled by boat and could be entered via manholes. The canal has a breadth up to 3.2 m and a height of up to 4.2 m (Fig. 1.1).

In Hellenistic and Roman times, several water supply systems were constructed for Pergamon castle, which is situated on a rock with an 800 m long plateau, at a height of nearly 300 m over the town situated below it. We are here only interested in one of these systems: the Madradag pipe 2 constructed during the rule of Eume-nas II (197-159 BC; Garbrecht 1987). This pipe had a length of 42 km and started in the Madradag mountains at a height of 1230 m, that is 900 m higher than the rock of Pergamon. Three valleys had to be crossed and afterwards the Pergamon rock had to be climbed. Therefore, the pipe had to be operated under pressure. This was an extremely demanding requirement for the quality of pipe manufacturing, laying and sealing. The difference in the height of 900 m (from source to castle) corresponding to a pressure drop of 90 bar (9 MPa) alone for the nonflow-ing water column. Therefore, very stringent requirements had to be met. The pipes

Management Antiquity Images

Fig. 1.1 Cloaca Maxima in Rome, sections of the wastewater collector (Lamprecht 1988).

Fig. 1.1 Cloaca Maxima in Rome, sections of the wastewater collector (Lamprecht 1988).

Fig. 1.2 Main street with main wastewater collector below the town at the top of the castle of Pergamon (Garbrecht 1987).

were manufactured from fired clay and had a diameter of 16-19 cm. A mean flow rate 15 L s-1 can be assumed. Initially, only one pipe was needed, but later on, two further pipes of nearly the same diameter were laid in parallel. This made possible an increase in the flow rate to nearly 45 L s-1 or 162 m3 h-1.

1.1 Water Supply and Wastewater Management in Antiquity 3

Fig. 1.3 Main wastewater collector with pipes for wastewater discharge at the castle of Pergamon (Garbrecht 1987).

A system for wastewater management was needed for such a high flow rate of fresh water. The resulting wastewater was collected in carefully masoned collectors laid below a main street covered by rectangular stone plates (Fig. 1.2).

The wastewater flowed from different palaces, temples, public buildings and private houses through clay pipes or open ditches. As a result of the growing flow rate, the cross-section had to be increased from 0.45-0.90 m2 to 1.05-1.70 m2 in places (Garbrecht 1987).

To keep the water from draining away at only one place at the end of the collector, discharge pipes took up the wastewater at various points and conducted it to the edge of the rock. From these points it fell below (Fig. 1.3).

4 | 1 Historical Development of Wastewater Collection and Treatment 1.2

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    What is management in antiquity?
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