Aqueduct System of Ancient Rome

This may sound crazy considering we have visited the Coliseum and Pantheon and other Roman marvels (only missed Roman Forum which was closed due to a strike about something) but my absolute favorite Ancient Rome structure is the aqueduct system. How in the world, with no technology and no survey equipment they built this aqueduct system that not only has survived 2000 years but some of it is operational today and is the water source to the Trevi fountain and other city fountains. In Roman times it was 290 miles (both above ground and below ground) that using only gravity carried fresh water into the city cisterns and bath houses and carried sewer water out of the city. Unbelievable!! image

Coliseum Engineering

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Once the structure of solid homemade brick was built, travertine stone was placed on the outside of the walls. Also, Tuff was used which is a porous, light volcanic rock.

Studying the Roman dome construction, I learned the Romans started with dense rocks such as marble for columns and support then used less dense volcanic rock at the top of domes.

Ancient Roman Engineering

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I am going to have to do several posts to show the highlights of ancient engineering. I either am not allowed to do more than one picture per post or there is user error. This picture is at the coliseum. The entire structure is solid homemade bricks and mortar. It was started by Emperor Vespasian in AD 72. It was completed in AD 80 by his son Titus. Just 8 years!!

Ancient Roman Engineering

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I can not even fathom how Rome in AD 70 built the coliseum with no real technology, just manual labor and mathematics. The engineering is so impressive and advanced for it’s time.

Roman structures have not only withstood 2000 years of nature but it took the Renaissance in Florence, Italy for a dome to be built again. In 1418, Brunelleschi and Donatello (famous sculptor) travel to Rome to study Roman architecture, sculpture, and engineering, particularly arches and domes. They then return to Florence and build the first dome since Roman times.

Galileo

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Galileo was born in Pisa. He was educated at the university of Pisa. He is known as the father of modern science. He began the notion of testing theories or as we know it, the scientific method. He dropped two balls of different mass off the tower of Pisa to determine if they hit the ground at the same time. He works with pendulums after observing a chandelier swinging due to the wind. His big discoveries are in the science of motion as well as applied science. His contributions to physics can not be emphasized enough. He invented the thermoscope (Galileo’s thermometer). He strongly believed in the heliocentric model of the universe which lands him under house arrest (for being right) in his villa in Florence where his two daughters were nuns until his death. The conviction ruins his relationship with his son who was in politics and embarrassed by the charges. Galileo and his son do reunite before Galileo’s death.

His body was buried in a paupers graveyard. The Italians realize what a great scientist he was (Newton was a huge fan and felt it was his mission to keep Galileo’s ideas alive and moving forward) and they exhumed his body, cut off two of his fingers and took a tooth and vertebrae in 1737. They bury him in the Santa Croce church here in Florence where Michelangelo and Danti are buried (picture is of Galileo’s tomb on the wall). His fingers and tooth were passed on in a family until the family sold them. They were lost until 2009 when they turned up in an auction. They are now in a beautiful display in the museum with his telescope he used to discover the moons around Jupiter and other scientific instruments he owned and an early edition of one of his books.

Galileo – Florence, Italy

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Figured my blog was getting a bit boring with me in front of all these science stops. So, I thought I would throw in a picture of the girls with the Ponte Vecchio bridge in the background. It is Jamie’s 16 birthday tomorrow. What a place to be on your birthday! Florence (Firenze), Italy is gorgeous and awesome. The girls are really enjoying the science stops. In fact when asked best part of the trip, the answer was a unanimous Sir Isaac Newton’s home (Woolsthorpe Manor). We love our physics!!