3 Ways Ancient Civilizations Moved Water Uphill

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One of the greatest marvels of ancient civilizations was how they managed to move large amounts of water uphill without the aid of electricity. To this day modern engineers marvel over the intricate civil infrastructure systems that were built over 2000 years ago and still function today.

Ancient civilizations moved water uphill in 3 different ways. First, some ancient civilizations built aqueducts that used water pressure to force water uphill. Second, some ancient inventions such as the Archimedes Screw were used to move water uphill. Third, ancient civilizations would drill deep into an elevated water table far away to build artificial rivers.

By using these three methods of moving water uphill several ancient civilizations were able to create ancient engineering marvels which still work to this day over 2,000 years later.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 ways ancient civilizations moved water uphill.

Ancient Civilizations Would Build Aqueducts With That Used Water Pressure To Force Water Uphill

One of the main ways that ancient civilizations moved water uphill was by constructing aqueducts that used a system of water pressure to force water uphill.

Easily the most famous ancient civilization that constructed these advanced aqueducts was the Roman Empire. Here the Romans would start building an aqueduct at a river deep in the mountains around Italy. This water would pool in large container vaults before being rushed into the aqueduct.

This fast moving water would then be funneled into a smaller aqueduct which drastically increased water pressure. Once the aqueduct had to move uphill the Romans would build a downwards deep channel that resembled the letter U.

The water would fall into the left side of this U and build up insane amounts of water pressure. This water pressure would eventually push the water higher than the opposite side of the U thus moving the water uphill.

This process was called a Roman Siphon. It is astounding that engineers almost 2,000 years ago were able to build such advanced aqueducts. After the fall of the Roman Republic the Empire started building these aqueducts all over the Roman world. Today we can find aqueducts in Spain, Britain, France, parts of Germany, Egypt, and across the middle east.

As such one of the main ways that ancient civilizations moved water uphill was by constructing aqueducts with siphons that used massive amounts of water pressure to force the water uphill.

Ancient Civilizations Would Employ The Archimedes Screw To Move Water Uphill

One of the ways in which ancient civilizations would move water uphill was by using the Archimedes Screw invention.

This invention would use a human or wind powered screw to lift water manually out of a lake uphill. Even though Archimedes bears the name of this invention we have evidence that it was used far before the 3rd century BC when Archimedes first wrote about it.

Sometime around 600 BC the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built. The ancient Roman geographer Strabo supposedly visited the hanging gardens sometime around 1 AD and noticed they were watered using Archimedes screws which had been in place for nearly 500 years before his time.

Further, in ancient Egypt we have accounts of farmers irrigating their crops with the Archimedes screw design. When powered by the wind these devices could continuously life water vertically out of a river up to a higher place.

However, typically these devices were employed by teams of either slaves or workers who worked to pump the water uphill. We have depictions demonstrating that a team of workers would walk on primitive treadmills to power the screw to lift out water from a lake or river.

As such one of the main ways that ancient civilizations moved water uphill was by using the Archimedes screw invention.

Ancient Civilizations Would Drill Deep Into An Elevated Water Table Far Away And Build Artificial Rivers.

Another way in which ancient civilizations would move water uphill would be by creating artificial rivers starting at a higher water table.

Typically this method was used throughout the ancient middle east where the mountains typically had a higher water table then the surrounding valleys. The main example that we have for this style of moving water uphill comes from ancient Persia.

In ancient Persia engineers would dig into a mountain and build a series of underground aqueducts. These aqueducts would tap into the elevated water table and funnel the water into an artificial river.

The reason we typically see underground aqueducts in the middle east was because of the hot dry climate. If the Persians built an above ground aqueduct like the Romans the water would evaporate in the hot sun.

As such, across the middle east these aqueducts would be constructed underground and directly tap into the latent water table. Today these ancient underground aqueducts are called a qanat, foggaras, or kariz depending upon the culture it is located in.

The water from this aqueduct technically moves uphill at its end destination since the ancient engineers would divert an entire underground river to an uphill destination on dry land.

These aqueducts are so effective that to this day across the middle east a large portion of the population of former Persia lives in villages and towns which still rely upon the ancient underground aquifers for their water.

As such one of the main ways in which ancient civilizations moved water uphill was by constructing underground aquifers where the water table was higher and then using this to create artificial rivers.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article about the 3 ways ancient civilizations moved water uphill.

The concept of ancient hydro engineering is fascinating. It is mind boggling how much the ancients knew about how to build and supply water to large populations over 2,000 years ago.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If at the end you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the web.

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Sincerely,

Nick