Martin Crapper: Ancient Water Systems
From Billy Rosendale
In this video Martin describes how his research is applying modern engineering to understand the Roman water supply for Constantinople, from its sources in the Thracian forests, through the aqueducts to the city with its famous cisterns.
Constantinople, now Istanbul, was the capital of the Roman and Byzantine Empires for over 1000 years. Its water system was one of the most extraordinary achievements of ancient times, including the two longest aqueduct channels, from Vize (336 km) and Danamandıra (215 km), monumental bridges such as the Bozdoğan Kemeri which still spans central Istanbul and a network of fabulous reservoirs and cisterns such as the justly famous Yerebatan Sarayi (Basillica Cistern).
Previous work by Professor Jim Crow in Archaeology has made an extensive survey of the surviving remains, while other workers have applied modern engineering to various specific features of Roman engineering.
There has, however, been no systematic study of a Roman system as a whole, from source to distribution, and this project, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, sets out to address this.
Taking the archaeological record as a starting point, and working with many colleagues in the UK and Turkey, we are applying the latest water network modelling techniques to identify supply and demand and interpret the ‘missing links’ in the record to come up with hypotheses about how the water system in the city may have looked and how it might have been managed. What purposes was served by the large covered cisterns? How were they connected to the aqueducts? Why were several vast open-air reservoirs constructed? These are some of the questions we intend to address.
We are also looking at the enormous task of designing and constructing the system (the longest aqueduct having been constructed in the 4th Century), using Agent Based Modelling to examine, for example, how the requisite skills and materials might have been procured and deployed.
Find out more:Dr Martin Crapper, School of Engineering profile: http://www.eng.ed.ac.uk/about/people/dr-martin-crapper
Edinburgh Research Explorer: http://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/martc