Aqueducts: The Answer to Rome's Water Problems

With the manufacturing of the very first elevated aqueduct in Rome, the Aqua Anio Vetus in 273 BC, folks who lived on the city’s hillsides no longer had to rely solely on naturally-occurring spring water for their requirements. Over this time period, there were only two other innovations capable of delivering water to high areas, subterranean wells and cisterns, which gathered rainwater. Starting in the sixteenth century, a new method was introduced, using Acqua Vergine’s subterranean segments to deliver water to Pincian Hill. As originally constructed, the aqueduct was provided along the length of its channel with pozzi (manholes) constructed at regular intervals. Though they were originally manufactured to make it possible to service the aqueduct, Cardinal Marcello Crescenzi (gravity info) started using the manholes to collect water from the channel, opening when he acquired the property in 1543. Although the cardinal also had a cistern to accumulate rainwater, it couldn't provide enough water. That is when he made the decision to create an access point to the aqueduct that ran directly below his property.

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