The Romans and their Drains.

There is a famous scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian where the Isrealites leader asks his group, “What have the Romans ever done for us?” There then follows a long list of things that they have done including the Aqueduct and sanitation with the comment, by the second command saying “remember what the city used to smell like…”, being greeted with many agreeing nods and mumbles.

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The Romans were certainly not the first to realise that public sanitation was important but they were the ones that really made it work and bring an improvement. Roman sewers still needed Drainage Cleaning but sadly they did not have the option of employing like we do today. They were amazingly efficient at trapping the local river sources and springs and diverting it into large aqueducts and using clay and lead pipes to further direct this to wells and fountains all via the power of gravity.

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These ideas were not limited to Italy and Rome itself. They soon expanded this knowledge to the tribes and people that they conquered. Many Celtic, Germanic and Gallic tribes, once they’d been moved out of their roundhouses into the stone Villa or townhouse, found that they quite liked the running water and the fact they could drink without the risk of getting ill. Roman toilets were communal affairs where trade, in goods and marriages, were conducted and the other business fell into the waste water to be taken away.

Author: Kei Taylor

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