8 Ancient Water Engineering Wonders

Interesting Engineering

Modern water engineering is built upon the techniques of ancient innovators. Our dependency on water has led to some truly marvelous technologies.

The Nazca Puquios

water engineering nazca puquios

[Image source: Wikimedia]

Aquifers were the only year-round source of water in the Nazca Basin in 7th Century Peru. Underground canals were maintained to direct vital water flow to arid regions, requiring immense technical skill and know-how. The corkscrew design of the chimney inlets take advantage of surface winds to push underground water through the system.

The Lost City of Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan


[Image source: Harappa]

Between 2600 and 1900 BC, the Indus River floodplain housed the magnificent city of Mohenjo-Daro. One of the largest early urban settlements, this city boasted public baths, wells, and indoor plumbing for its many inhabitants. The sophisticated underground sewer system is a marvel of urban development.

Archimedes' Screw


[Image source: Wikimedia]

One of the quintessential images of human ingenuity, this stunning invention is attributed to the great Archimedes, 3rd Century BC. While evidence exists showing the use of similar water-lifting devices many years before, the name of this fantastic contraption has stuck. Capable of lifting fluids of any viscosity, as well as granular solids, this technology is the basis of many lifting mechanisms in use today.

Roman Aqueducts


[Image source: Wikimedia]

No list of water engineering wonders would be complete without reference to the imposing Roman aqueducts. Still standing after over 2,000 years, these impressive monuments to a confident empire ensured a clean source of water for all its citizens.

Noria Water Wheel


[Image source: MachineryLubrication.com]

Among the earliest means of lifting water, the Noria water wheel used the power of flowing water to drive a wheel of buckets or pots. Simple, elegant, effective.

Banaue Rice Terraces


[Image source: banaueterraces.com]

2,000-year-old terraces, thought to have been carved by hand into the Ifugao mountainside, speak of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the indigenous people of the Philippines. Awesome in scope, these terraces provide growing platforms for acres of rice to sustain local people. Requiring advanced knowledge of erosion and geology, the staggered ponds are irrigated from the rainforests above.

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Sakia Water Wheel


[Image source: Wikimedia]

Not to be confused with the Noria Water Wheel, the Sakia was driven by external means (usually animals) to lift a series of water containers.

Heron’s Fountain


[Image source: Wikimedia]

Now this is just cool. Using gravity and air pressure, this fountain must have appeared to be magic to the people of 1st Century Egypt. The device was designed by Heron of Alexandria and is a beautiful illustration Pascal's and Bernoulli's principles of the properties of liquids.

SEE ALSO: 10 Of the World’s Most Amazing Water Bridges

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