Due to the growth of population in Roman cities, Rome needed an alternate water source. Not only was the water supply no longer reliable for the growing Roman population, it was also possible that enemies of Rome could poison the supply. To solve this problem, they built aqueducts. Aqueducts brought water from a source to a city. All around Rome one found vibrant springs and rivers. In 312 BC the Adile Appius Claudius undertook construction on the first aqueduct, named Aqua Appia. This was a simple underground channel. Next came the Aqua Anio Vetus in 272 B.C. This was also primarily an underground channel. By 140 B.C. the Aqua Marcia was completed bringing water from the Anio Valley. Eventually there were eleven aqueducts that supplied water to Rome, and it is estimated that these aqueducts provided Rome with twelve hundred million liters of water a day.
The Romans were dependent upon this water not only for drinking but also for baths, gardens, and fountains, and was the source of water for the poor whose homes were not supplied directly.
Most aqueducts ran underground. However, if it became necessary to cross a valley or river, the aqueduct was elevated on a bridge of stone arches that enabled water to flow at a constant rate. There are basically three types of aqueducts: masonry conduits, lead pipes, and earthenware pipes. The most common in Rome were masonry conduits. The center of the masonry aqueduct was the specus, or the water channel. The specus was about the size of our present day doorway. The specus always had stone walls, stone floors, and a stone roof regardless if it ran underground or was built upon tiers. The specus was always covered. The purpose of the covering was originally to protect the...