Special Issue "Water Engineering in Ancient Societies"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydraulics and Hydrodynamics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2021) | Viewed by 6946

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Special Issue Editor

Dr. Charles R. Ortloff
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, USA
Interests: ancient water engineering; water conveyance structures; hydraulics; new discoveries; CFD; water engineering history; South American societies; Mediterranean societies; Asian societies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

While many urban and agricultural water delivery and transport structures of the ancient world are well known from archaeological literature, the engineering methodologies and theoretical basis used by ancient water engineers in their design and operation await discovery. Surviving literature from ancient authors on water engineering methodologies reveals the absence of early versions of hydraulic engineering principles and key hydraulic engineering parameters vital to water conveyance design—yet recent analysis using modern hydraulic engineering methodologies of several of the notable ancient World Heritage water conveyance structures demonstrates the use of versions of modern water engineering principles albeit in indigenous formats yet to be discovered and elucidated. By use of modern computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methodologies and modern hydraulic engineering principles, ancient water structures of Pre-Columbian South American, ancient Mediterranean, and Dynastic Asian societies can now be modeled and analyzed to uncover and extract ancient versions of water technologies used in their design of water conveyance structures. To bring forward the knowledge base of ancient water engineers and their contribution to the history of water science, a Special Issue of Water is proposed to collect analyses from authors involved in this new field of discovery with the aim to acknowledge what their engineering brothers of centuries past have discovered in the water sciences.

Dr. Charles R. Ortloff
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • ancient water engineering
  • water conveyance structures
  • hydraulics
  • new discoveries
  • CFD
  • water engineering history
  • South American societies
  • Mediterranean societies
  • Asian societies

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Roman Water Transport: Pressure Lines
Water 2022, 14(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14010028 - 23 Dec 2021
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Abstract
In Roman times long distance water transport was realized by means of aqueducts. Water was conveyed in mortared open channels with a downward slope from spring to destination. Also wooden channels and clay pipelines were applied. The Aqua Appia, the oldest aqueduct of [...] Read more.
In Roman times long distance water transport was realized by means of aqueducts. Water was conveyed in mortared open channels with a downward slope from spring to destination. Also wooden channels and clay pipelines were applied. The Aqua Appia, the oldest aqueduct of Rome, was constructed in the third Century BCE. During the Pax Romana (second Century CE), a time of little political turmoil, prosperity greatly increased, almost every town acquiring one or more aqueducts to meet the rising demand from the growth of population, the increasing number of public and private bath buildings, and the higher luxury level in general. Until today over 1600 aqueducts have been described, Gallia (France) alone counting more than 300. Whenever a valley was judged to be too wide or too deep to be crossed by a bridge, pressure lines known as ‘inverted siphons’ or simply ‘siphons’ were employed. These closed conduits transported water across a valley according the principle of communicating vessels. About 80 classical siphons are presently known with one out of twenty aqueducts being equipped with a siphon. After an introductory note about aqueducts in general, this report treats the ancient pressure conduit systems with the technical problems encountered in design and function, the techniques that the ancient engineers applied to cope with these problems, and the texts of the Roman author Vitruvius on the subject. Reviewers noted that the report is rather long, and it is. Yet to understand the difficulties that the engineers of those days encountered in view of the materials available for their siphons (stone, ceramics, lead), many a hydraulic aspect will be discussed. Aspects that for the modern hydraulic engineer may be common knowledge and of minor importance when constructing pressure lines, in view of modern construction materials. It was different in Vitruvius’s days. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Engineering in Ancient Societies)
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Article
Engineering Resilience to Water Stress in the Late Prehispanic North-Central Andean Highlands (~600–1200 BP)
Water 2021, 13(24), 3544; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243544 - 11 Dec 2021
Viewed by 670
Abstract
The Andes are defined by human struggles to provide for, and control, water. Nowhere is this challenge more apparent than in the unglaciated western mountain range Cordillera Negra of the Andes where rain runoff provides the only natural source of water for herding [...] Read more.
The Andes are defined by human struggles to provide for, and control, water. Nowhere is this challenge more apparent than in the unglaciated western mountain range Cordillera Negra of the Andes where rain runoff provides the only natural source of water for herding and farming economies. Based on over 20 years of systematic field surveys and taking a political ecology and resilience theory focus, this article evaluates how the Prehispanic North-Central highlands Huaylas ethnic group transformed the landscape of the Andes through the largescale construction of complex hydraulic engineering works in the Cordillera Negra of the Ancash Province, North-Central Peru. It is likely that construction of these engineered landscapes commenced during the Middle Horizon (AD 600–1000), reaching their apogee under the Late Intermediate Period (Huaylas group, AD 1000–1450) and Inca (AD 1450–1532) period, before falling into disuse during the early Spanish colony (AD 1532–1615) through a combination of disease, depopulation, and disruption. Persistent water stress in the western Pacific-facing Andean cordillera was ameliorated through the construction of interlinked dams and reservoirs controlling the water, soil, and wetlands. The modern study of these systems provides useful case-studies for infrastructure rehabilitation potentially providing low-cost, though technologically complex, solutions to modern water security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Engineering in Ancient Societies)
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Article
The Masterful Water Engineers of Machu Picchu
Water 2021, 13(21), 3049; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213049 - 01 Nov 2021
Viewed by 599
Abstract
The water engineering achievements of the Inca at Machu Picchu, when defined in technical terms common to modern engineers, demonstrate that the Inca were masterful planners, designers, and constructors. They demonstrated their technical skills through the planning, design, and construction of water supply, [...] Read more.
The water engineering achievements of the Inca at Machu Picchu, when defined in technical terms common to modern engineers, demonstrate that the Inca were masterful planners, designers, and constructors. They demonstrated their technical skills through the planning, design, and construction of water supply, fountains, terraces, foundations, walls, and trails. The site of Machu Picchu was a difficult place to build, with high precipitation, steep terrain, and challenging access. Nonetheless, the Inca had the uncanny ability to plan public works and infrastructure in a manner that fit this problematic site and lasted for centuries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Engineering in Ancient Societies)
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Review

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Review
Caral, South America’s Oldest City (2600–1600 BC): ENSO Environmental Changes Influencing the Late Archaic Period Site on the North Central Coast of Peru
Water 2022, 14(9), 1403; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14091403 - 27 Apr 2022
Viewed by 282
Abstract
The Late Archaic Period (2600–1600 BC) site of Caral, located ~20 km inland from the Pacific Ocean coastline in the Supe Valley of the north central coast of Peru, is subject to CFD analysis to determine the effects of ENSO (El Niño Southern [...] Read more.
The Late Archaic Period (2600–1600 BC) site of Caral, located ~20 km inland from the Pacific Ocean coastline in the Supe Valley of the north central coast of Peru, is subject to CFD analysis to determine the effects of ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) events (mainly, El Niño flooding and drought events) on its agricultural and marine resource base that threatened societal continuity. The first step is to examine relics of major flood events that produced coastal beach ridges composed of deposited flood slurries—the C14 dating of material within beach ridges determines the approximate dates of major flood events. Of interest is the interaction of flood slurry with oceanic currents that produce a linear beach ridge as these events are controlled by fluid mechanics principles. CFD analysis provides the basis for beach ridge geometric linear shape. Concurrent with beach ridge formation from major flood events are landscape changes that affect the agricultural field system and marine resource food supply base of Caral and its satellite sites- here a large beach ridge can block river drainage, raise the groundwater level and, together with aeolian sand transfer from exposed beach flats, convert previously productive agricultural lands into swamps and marshes. One major flood event in ~1600 BC rendered coastal agricultural zones ineffective due to landscape erosion/deposition events together with altering the marine resource base from flood deposition over shellfish gathering and sardine and anchovy netting areas, the net result being that prior agricultural areas shifted to limited-size, inner valley bottomland areas. Agriculture, then supplied by highland sierra amuna reservoir water, led to a high water table supplemented by Supe River water to support agriculture. Later ENSO floods conveyed thin saturated bottomland soils and slurries to coastal areas to further reduce the agricultural base of Supe Valley sites. With the reduction in the inner valley agricultural area from continued flood events, agriculture, on a limited basis, shifted to the plateau area upon which urban Caral and the satellite sites were located. The narrative that follows then provides the basis for the abandonment of Caral and its satellite Supe Valley sites due to the vulnerability of the limited food-supply base subject to major ENSO events. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Engineering in Ancient Societies)
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Other

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Case Report
Inka Hydraulic Engineering at the Tipon Royal Compound (Peru)
Water 2022, 14(1), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14010102 - 04 Jan 2022
Viewed by 334
Abstract
The Inka site of Tipon had many unique hydraulic engineering features that have modern hydraulic theory counterparts. For example, the Tipon channel system providing water to the Principal Fountain had a channel contraction inducing critical flow as determined by CFD analysis- this feature [...] Read more.
The Inka site of Tipon had many unique hydraulic engineering features that have modern hydraulic theory counterparts. For example, the Tipon channel system providing water to the Principal Fountain had a channel contraction inducing critical flow as determined by CFD analysis- this feature designed to induce flow stability and preserve the aesthetic display of the downstream Waterfall. The Main Aqueduct channel sourced by the Pukara River had a given flow rate to limit channel overbank spillage induced by a hydraulic jump at the steep-mild slope transition channel location as determined by use of modern CFD methods- this flow rate corresponds to the duplication of the actual flow rate used in the modern restoration using flow blockage plates placed in the channel to limit over-bank spillage. Additional hydraulic features governing the water supply to agricultural terraces for specialty crops constitute further sophisticated water management control systems discussed in detail in the text. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Engineering in Ancient Societies)
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Case Report
Roman Hydraulic Engineering: The Pont du Gard Aqueduct and Nemausus (Nîmes) Castellum
Water 2021, 13(1), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13010054 - 30 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1338
Abstract
The water distribution castellum at the terminal end of the Pont du Gard aqueduct serving the Roman city of Nemausus in southern France is analyzed for its water engineering design and operation. By the use of modern hydraulic engineering analysis methods applied to [...] Read more.
The water distribution castellum at the terminal end of the Pont du Gard aqueduct serving the Roman city of Nemausus in southern France is analyzed for its water engineering design and operation. By the use of modern hydraulic engineering analysis methods applied to analyze the castellum, new aspects of Roman water engineering technology are discovered not previously reported in the archaeological literature. Analysis of the castellum’s 10 basin wall flow distribution pipelines reveals that when a Roman version of modern critical flow theory is utilized in their design, the 10 pipelines optimally transfer water to city precincts at the maximum flow rate possible with a total flow rate closely approximating the input flow rate from the aqueduct. The castellum’s three drainage floor ports serve as additional fine-tuning to precisely match the input aqueduct flow rate to the optimized 10 pipeline output flow rate. The castellum’s many hydraulic engineering features provide a combination of advanced water engineering technology to optimize the performance of the water distribution system while at the same time enhancing the castellum’s aesthetic water display features typical of Roman values. While extensive descriptive archaeological literature exists on Roman achievements related to their water systems both in Rome and its provinces, what is missing is the preliminary engineering knowledge base that underlies many of their water system’s designs. The present paper is designed to provide this missing link by utilizing modern hydraulic engineering methodologies to uncover the basis of Roman civil engineering practice—albeit in Roman formats yet to be discovered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Engineering in Ancient Societies)
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Case Report
Water Engineering at Precolumbian AD 600–1100 Tiwanaku’s Urban Center (Bolivia)
Water 2020, 12(12), 3562; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123562 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 819
Abstract
The pre-Columbian World Heritage site of Tiwanaku (AD 600–1100) located in highland altiplano Bolivia is shown to have a unique urban water supply system with many advanced hydraulic and hydrological features. By use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling of the city water [...] Read more.
The pre-Columbian World Heritage site of Tiwanaku (AD 600–1100) located in highland altiplano Bolivia is shown to have a unique urban water supply system with many advanced hydraulic and hydrological features. By use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling of the city water system, new revelations as to the complexity of the water system are brought forward. The water system consists of a perimeter drainage channel surrounding the ceremonial center of the city. A network of surface canals and subterranean channels connected to the perimeter drainage channel are supplied by multiple canals from a rainfall collection reservoir. The perimeter drainage channel provides rapid draining of rainy season rainfall runoff together with aquifer drainage of intercepted rainfall; water collected in the perimeter drainage channel is then directed to the Tiwanaku River then on to Lake Titicaca. During the dry season aquifer drainage continues into the perimeter drainage channel; additional water is directed into the drainage channel from a recently discovered, reservoir connected M channel. Two subterranean channels beneath the ceremonial center were supplied by M channel water delivered into the perimeter drainage channel that served to remove waste from the ceremonial center structures conveyed to the nearby Tiwanaku River. From control of the water supply to/from the perimeter drainage channel during wet and dry seasonal changes, stabilization of the deep groundwater level was achieved—this resulted in the stabilization of monumental ceremonial structure’s foundations, a continuous water supply to inner city agricultural zones, water pools for urban use and health benefits for the city population through moisture level reduction in city ceremonial and secular urban housing structures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Engineering in Ancient Societies)
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Case Report
Hydraulic Engineering at 100 BC-AD 300 Nabataean Petra (Jordan)
Water 2020, 12(12), 3498; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123498 - 12 Dec 2020
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Abstract
The principal water supply and distribution systems of the World Heritage site of Petra in Jordan were analyzed to bring forward water engineering details not previously known in the archaeological literature. The three main water supply pipeline systems sourced by springs and reservoirs [...] Read more.
The principal water supply and distribution systems of the World Heritage site of Petra in Jordan were analyzed to bring forward water engineering details not previously known in the archaeological literature. The three main water supply pipeline systems sourced by springs and reservoirs (the Siq, Ain Braq, and Wadi Mataha pipeline systems) were analyzed for their different pipeline design philosophies that reflect different geophysical landscape challenges to provide water supplies to different parts of urban Petra. The Siq pipeline system’s unique technical design reflects use of partial flow in consecutives sections of the main pipeline to support partial critical flow in each section that reduce pipeline leakage and produce the maximum flow rate the Siq pipeline can transport. An Ain Braq pipeline branch demonstrated a new hydraulic engineering discovery not previously reported in the literature in the form of an offshoot pipeline segment leading to a water collection basin adjacent to and connected to the main water supply line. This design eliminates upstream water surges arising from downstream flow instabilities in the two steep pipelines leading to a residential sector of Petra. The Wadi Mataha pipeline system is constructed at the critical angle to support the maximum flow rate from a reservoir. The analyses presented for these water supply and distribution systems brought forward aspects of the Petra urban water supply system not previously known, revising our understanding of Nabataean water engineers’ engineering knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Engineering in Ancient Societies)
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