Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Roman Aqueducts and Roads

As we have studied ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, Europe and Asia this school year we have done various projects recommended by our Story of the World Activity guide. Most of the projects aren't quite as big or time consuming as the Chicken Mummy, but they have been great for providing a bit of insight into the ancient world. Many projects have involved recipes, stories, games, clothing, writing and art of ancient civilizations.
This spring we have spent a good deal of time studying the Romans. We took advantage of having Daddy home and Grammy and Grand-Dad here for Good Friday to complete a project on how to build a Roman aqueduct and road. We had a good time with these two projects, but I am glad we tackled them with all the extra adult hands!
The Romans were the first people to use cement in their building projects and roads. As such, we began by mixing sand dough which served as a homemade cement.  We were able to use it for our "Roman Archway and Aqueduct" as well as our "Roman Road." We began by mixing the ingredients outdoors and then heated it over the stove indoors to complete the mixture.
 The Romans built archways as water-conduits to bring water from river and mountain resources into their cities. So once we had mixed the cement we flattened it out and used our archway pattern (provided in the SOTW activity guide) to cut out the arches we needed for our aqueduct system.
  After cutting the arches out, we stood them up and stabalized them before baking and hardening them.

 The archways deposited the water into holding tanks (yogurt cup) and the water was then distrubuted throughout the city in a piping network (straws). Not surprisingly the kids had a great time pouring water in at the top of our aqueduct and watching it flow down into our holding tank and out the straws. This project really brought home to the girls how difficult it would have been to build full scale archways and aqueducts as much time as it took as to build this mini one! 

 While the end product doesn't look quite as cool, I actually thought building the Roman road was an even better demonstration of ancient engineering at work. Roman roads were know for their quality especially in comparison to the roads built by other ancient civilizations. We began building our Roman road by using a styrofoam container which represented a ditch the Romans would have dug to begin their road(s).
 Next the Romans placed a layer of sand in the bottom of the ditch
 Next they placed small rocks, cement and finally large rocks to provide a smooth surface to travel over.
 What was especially interesting about this project was the recommendation to do each layer half as long as the previous one so that at the end you could see all four levels of the road at the same time. This project again really helped the girls understand and remember the process ancient people used to build something we think of as commonplace today. When we discussed Rome several weeks later in our co-op class we took this project in with us and Reagan was easily able to explain the process used by the Romans to build roads to her classmates.
Thank you Grammy, Grand-Dad and Daddy for all your engineering assistance! 

1 comment:

  1. Great! I guess you know that there are functioning aqueducts in California. If interested, see here:

    Or look up California Aqueduct in the Wikipedia.