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October 10, 2016

The Roman Empire: plumbing, pipes and plumbers (history of plumbing part II)

Wavin is looking at plumbing history, celebrating the science and art of the craft. This is part II.

Roman Aqueduct remains, Pont du Gard. From Michael Gwyther-Jones, via Flickr Creative Commons

Life without modern plumbing systems in our homes – no running water, pipes and flushing toilets, would shatter our modern life. Water is the most essential nutrient for life on earth, and in turn plumbing is one of the fundamental structures that has helped build our modern society. As civilization has developed over the millennia, humans have built communities, farmed and developed the land by advancing water management skills.

History of plumbing

Wavin is looking at plumbing history, celebrating the science and art of the craft. For part two, let’s start with the term “plumbing:” it’s from the Latin term “plumbus,” meaning “lead,” or “one who works in lead.” Over the centuries, pipe and conduit was also made from earthenware, and even wood. While water systems were constructed in the 9th century BCE by the Assyrian Empire, the most famous water delivery structures are the Roman aqueducts, built some 500 plus years after that. The Roman aqueducts were great architectural achievements, many boasting two or three layers of arches, reaching impressive heights. Many survive today.

Remains of Roman plumbing. From Steve Parker, via Flickr Creative Commons

Rome’s aqueducts and plumbing engineering supplied the public wells, baths and many homes in Rome, but after the fall of the Roman Empire many conquered countries lost interest in sanitation and cleanliness. Roman standards were viewed negatively as the empire and time moved on, and Roman bath houses were looked at as vain and depraved. This view proved dangerous, and the sanitation conditions that followed helped lead to the Black Plague ( we'll look at that in our next installment).


In today’s ever-growing world and high density populations, we couldn't sustain modern life without plumbers doing their thing. Wavin is there with quality drinking water, waste water solutions, and effective sewage removal. With the right tools and innovative solutions, Wavin knows that you can't keep a good plumber down!

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