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Roman engineers chipped an aqueduct through more than 100 kilometers of stone to connect water to cities in the ancient province of Syria. The monumental effort took more than a century, says the German researcher who discovered it.
In the capital alone there were thousands of fountains, drinking troughs and thermal baths. Rich senators refreshed themselves in private pools and decorated their gardens with cooling grottos. The result was a record daily consumption of over 500 liters of water per capita (Germans today use around 125 liters).
However, when the Roman legions marched into the barren region of Palestine, shortly before the birth of Christ, they had to forgo the usual splashing about, at least temporarily. It was simply too dry.
Not Enough Oxygen
But that didn't stop the empire's clever engineers. They soon figured out a way to put things right. In the former Roman province of Syria (located in modern day Jordan), researchers are currently studying a sensational canal system. It extends mostly underground over a distance of 106 kilometers (66 miles).
The Gadara Aqueduct was an Roman aqueduct to supply water to the city of Gadara, modern-day Jordan. The 170 km long pipeline was constructed in the qanat technology, that is as a series of well-like vertical shafts, which were connected underground from opposite sides by gently sloping tunnels. The longest section featured a length of 94 km, the longest known tunnel from antiquity. Partly following the course of an older Hellenistic aqueduct, excavation work arguably started after a visit of emperor Hadrian in 129-130 AD. The Gadara Aqueduct was never quite finished, and was put in service only in sections. It was discovered and explored as late as 2004.