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Romans pioneered sewage system

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Cloaca Maxima
Cloaca Maxima

Romans were pioneers with the sewage system. They were the first to use underground water to discharge waste. The first sewerage system in Rome is believed to have been built between 800 and 735 BCE.

The Roman sewer system was extremely extensive in ancient Rome. The most famous was the Cloaca Maxima in Rome (“the largest sewer”), which was one of the largest Roman structures ever built. It is worth noting that the sewers had a very serious disadvantage – there was no care for the discharge of gases (venting), which could (and did) cause explosions of the accumulated hydrogen sulphide.

Another problem was the discharge of the waste to the Tiber River. The level of the river changed quite often, which when it increased caused the waste to return “with the force of a waterfall” back to the Roman dwellings. However, this does not change the overall assessment of the Roman invention. In the 1st century CE, the Roman sewage system was very efficient. It was mentioned in Pliny the Elder in “Natural History”, mentioning that he was the most outstanding thing of all.

Sources
  • Casson Lionel, Everyday Life in Ancient Rome
  • Farnsworth Gray Harold, Sewerage in Ancient and Mediaeval Times
  • Krawczuk Aleksander (red.), Wielka Historia Świata, tom 3
  • Rome, Cloaca Maxima, "Livius.org"

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