A recent article in Spiegel Online reports on the discovery of “The Ancient World’s Longest Underground Aqueduct.”
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.
When the Romans weren’t busy conquering their enemies, they loved to waste massive quantities of water, which gurgled and bubbled throughout their cities. The engineers of the empire invented standardized lead pipes, aqueducts as high as fortresses, and water mains with 15 bars (217 pounds per square inch) of pressure.
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.
The article by Matthias Schulz says,
This colossal waterworks project supplied the great cities of the ‘Decapolis’ – a league originally consisting of 10 ancient communities — with spring water. The aqueduct ended in Gadara, a city with a population of approximately 50,000. According to the Bible, this is where Jesus exorcized demons and chased them into a herd of pigs.
The full story may be read here. There are some nice photos and diagrams.
The identification of the “country of the Gadarenes” (Matthew 8:28-34), and the “country of the Gerasenes” (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26-39), and the exact place where the swine rushed down the steep cliff into the Sea, is a difficult one. And I don’t have the time to work on it today.
We know that Gadara had a port on the Sea of Galilee, and that Roman coins of the city portrayed ships.
Here is a photo of the Roman theater of Umm Queis. The earliest buildings of this city are made of basalt, the volcanic rock common in the area.
HT: Joe Lauer
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