Roman Aqueducts

Contributor: Ryann Maginn. Lesson ID: 12601

Most likely, where you live, water mysteriously comes out of a faucet. You probably don't know where it comes from or see the pipes. In ancient Rome, you couldn't miss their amazing delivery system!



learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • How do you think the ancient Romans got fresh water to their homes thousands of years ago, when there was no plumbing and no delivery trucks or plastic bottles?

Romans used massive aqueducts to transfer water as far as 60 miles for bathing, drinking, and irrigation.

Aqueduct is a Latin term for waterway.

The water they transferred came from springs and rivers and was moved either above or below ground by channels made of stone, brick, and cement.

aqueduct trench

The water that was carried was both used water and fresh water. This system helped maintain the health of the Romans by supplying clean water.

In addition to health, farmers were able to reap other benefits of the water. Farmers used the water for irrigation.

Irrigation is a method of supplying a controlled amount of water to plants and crops to help them grow.


You are probably wondering how these aqueducts worked!

To keep the water moving at a good pace, Romans would drop the level of the aqueduct by approximately 24 feet every mile. This created a slope. Gravity allowed for a continuous flow so that the water was able to reach the cities.

Roman Aqueduct engraving

The Romans had 11 separate aqueducts that took about 500 years to build!

When the water arrived at the city, it was dumped into a tank called a castella. The water was then transported through pipes that led to public fountains and some homes.

Roman pipes

Because of this system, wealthy people were able to have running water, something that was unheard of at that time.

When Romans moved to different locations, more aqueducts were constructed. Despite many being destroyed during wars over the years, these structures were so well thought-out and constructed that you can still find some aqueduct remains throughout Rome today.

Roman aqueduct

Watch Aqueducts: Technology and Uses - Ancient Rome Live from American Institue for Roman Culture for more information about these fascinating structures:

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Imagine how our lives would be different if we did not have running water.

  • How do you think people got their water before the construction of the aqueducts?
  • Once the aqueducts were complete, how do you think people felt?

After answering these questions, continue on to the Got It? section where you will draw on your creativity!

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