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Fall Of Roman Empire Essay Research Paper

Fall Of Roman Empire Essay, Research Paper

The Fall of the Roman Empire

An essay on the effect of acqueducts in ancient Rome A basic fact of life: humans

need water to survive. Therefore, it is not surprising that water has played an

important role in history. All of the ancient civilizations, including Rome, had to deal

with the problem of a steady water supply. Rome?s solutions had both positive and

negative results. At first glance, one would think that Roae would have no problem

supplying water to her people. After all, the city was built on a river. Why would

water have to be brought into the city? There were several reasons: first of all, river

water is not known for its cleanliness. It may do for irrigation, but not for drinking.

Drinking water would either have be drawn up from wells, or brought in to the cities

from pure sources in the mountains. However, digging wells enough for several ten

thousand people is not practical, as wells need to be spaced far apart. Thus, the need

for aqueducts. Bringing water in from the mountains was no simple matter. The

easiest method of transporting water was gravity feed via a sloped channel or pipe.

However, there were hills and valleys which must be crossed. The Roman engineers

used a variety of techniques to overcome these obstacles. First, the rate of descent for

the channel must be determined. Using geometry and trigonometry, this is a relatively

simple problem of triangulation. Vetruvius said that each channel “must be leveled

with a fall of not less than half a foot in 100 feet.” These calculations indicate that the

Romans had sufficient mathematical knowledge to undertake the aqueduct programs,

as well as engineering expertise. Since the channel for the water must go in a straight

line, then the next problem was where to put the line. The placement would have to

take into account the changes in elevation along the course of the channel. The

Romans took a course of compromise in their construction: they tunneled through hills

and raised the channel on arches through valleys. Once the water reached the city, it

emptied into a storage tank. From there, it was distributed into the city system or to

people who paid for the right to tap the tank. However, aqueducts were more than just

a convenient way of transporting water. They could also be used to curry political

favor. They also speak speaks of the drainage channel to Lake Fucine. The Marsians

had requested the project be carried out under Augustus, but he had refused. Claudius,

on the other hand, carried out the request even though it took eleven years work by

30,000 men. Suetonius suggests that Claudius undertook the project for personal

glory. However, it could be that he wanted to gain the favor of the Marsians after his

questionable accession(namely, being appointed by the Praetorian Guard after they

assassinated Caligula). As expensive as aqueducts were to build, they were also a

source or continuing revenue for the emperor. Citizens paid a water tax for what they

consumed, and all citizens who tapped the main tanks paid for their license to do so.

These licenses, or grants as Frontinus called them, were for a set period of time and

could not be sold by the holder or passed on to his heirs. The fact that these grants had

to be signed by the emperor indicates that the water supply was closely watched over

by the highest levels of the government. Frontinus also states that water grants to

public baths were for perpetuity. This points out how important the public baths were

to the ancient Romans, if they were to always be guaranteed water. There were also

health implications from the aqueducts. Vetruvius described the two most common

piping materials: earthenware and lead. Lead pipes may have been easier to handle,

and not as fragile as earthenware, but there was a negative side effect of lead piping:

lead poisoning. The Romans seem to have been vaguely aware of how detrimental

lead was to the body. Vetruvius wrote: “For when lead is smelted in casting, the fumes

from it settle on the members of the body and, burning them, rob the limbs of the

virtues of the blood. Therefore, it seems that water should by no means be brought in

lead pipes if we desire to have it wholesome.”Coincidentally, lead poisoning is one

proposed contributing cause of the fall of the Roman Empire. The aqueducts played

an important role in Roman life, being a source of water for consumption and bathing,

revenue for the imperial coffers, and political power. However, in the end the very

materials used to transport this life giving liquid may have helped poison Rome. Now

that you know how much the romans used water its easy to see that lead poisoning is

a very easy theory to believe.

Another theory that can be accounted for is the corrupt government witch the roman

empire was under. Its easy to see this by the ways in which they governed there cities.

For one they taxed the hell out of the poor people. Usually when this happens people

tend to have no money of there own which leads to starvation and poverty. when this

happens people tend to lose interest in the government and dispise there leaders. Now

In Rome it was a fighting based culture where when the country got into a war the

people had to fight for it. Now When People are standing around tired, hungry, and

broke because the had to give all there money to the fat guy that sits around eating and

drinking wine all day you think there going to listen to him when he says, im in a

slump im being attacked do you think you could go get theses people out of here? I

don?t think so. In fact its the other way around. People get sick of getting tossed

around, working all day to pay for the fat guy. In other words people get pissed off and

rebel. And that in fact is a theory that I highly bieleve in. Now if I was in there

position I would rebel also. So from this its easy to see how the people, or citizens, of

the Roman empire could have over taken the thrown of the Caesar and get away with

it. Majority rules and when it comes to the Roman citizens there the majority.

All in all I think both theories are highly believable and have good support to think

this. Its possible to say that the fall of the Roman empire could have been caused by a

million things. But I guess we will never really know the truth because we were never

there and never will be.

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