Buried Roman Aqueducts – Frost Avoidance Techniques ? Or Wrong Conclusion.

The discovery of buried Roman water works (aqueducts) led to the conclusion that these water works were buried to avoid freezing by frost action.


Roam aqueduct

Figure 1

To avoid frost effects all one needs do is enclose the water channel and being constructed from mortar and bricks etc, as in Figure 1 above, burial becomes unnecessary unless its for aesthetic reasons. The very material itself that the water pipe is made from material that mitigates frost action by providing an insulated cover.

It’s our old friend of arguing the consequent, a well developed fallacy frequently used by those who see only what they believe.  That is, dogma is paramount in the ranking of empirical data, so if the data contradict the dogma, alternative explanations are sought to avoid the bloody obvious.

Here’s how the Romans solved frost action when the water works had to cross valleys or creeks,

Covered aqueduct

Figure 2

The structures in figures 1 and 2 are parts of the Eiffel Aqueduct system supplying the Roman City of Cologne, Figure 3 below:

Eiffel System

Figure 3

So why bury the water works to avoid frost damage if simply putting a lid or cap over the channel is needed?

About Louis Hissink

Retired diamond exploration geologist. I spent my professional life looking for mineral deposits, found some, and also located a number of kimberlites in NSW and Western Australia. Exploration geology is the closest one can get to practicing the scientific method, mineral exploration always being concerned with finding anomalous geophysical or geochemical data, framing a model and explanation for the anomaly and then testing it with drilling or excavation. All scientific theories are ultimately false since they invariably involved explaining something with incomplete extant knowledge. Since no one is omniscient or knows everything, so too scientific theories which are solely limited to existing knowledge. Because the future always yields new data, scientific theories must change to be compatible with the new data. Thus a true scientist is never in love with any particular theory, always knowing that when the facts change, so too must he/she change their minds.
This entry was posted in Archaeology, Geology, Hare-brained theories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Buried Roman Aqueducts – Frost Avoidance Techniques ? Or Wrong Conclusion.

  1. malagabay says:

    Excellent post 🙂


  2. johnm33 says:

    Ok the slope has to be minimal, the route short, it means cutting a channel. Easiest place to put the waste is just behind you, as work proceeds.


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