Eifel Aqueduct - Roman Demands For Water Quality

Roman Demands For Water Quality

Romans preferred drinking water with a high mineral content, preferring its taste to that of soft water. Roman architect Vitruvius described the process for testing a source of drinking water:

Springs should be tested and proved in advance in the following ways. If they run free and open, inspect and observe the physique of the people who dwell in the vicinity before beginning to conduct the water, and if their frames are strong, their complexions fresh, legs sound, and eyes clear, the springs deserve complete approval. If it is a spring just dug out, its water is excellent if it can be sprinkled into a Corinthian vase or into any other sort made of good bronze without leaving a spot on it. Again, if such water is boiled in a bronze cauldron, afterwards left for a time, and then poured off without sand or mud being found at the bottom of the cauldron, that water also will have proved its excellence.

Vitruvius insisted, "Consequently we must take great care and pains in searching for springs and selecting them, keeping in view the health of mankind." The water from the Eifel aqueduct was considered to be some of the very best water in the empire.

Unfortunately, hard water tends to produce calcium carbonate deposits, and all areas of the aqueduct today have a thick layer of limestone-like deposits up to 20 centimetres (7.9 in) thick. Despite the reduction in the cross-sectional area of the aqueduct caused by these deposits, the aqueduct was still able to provide the necessary quantity of water for Cologne. In the Middle Ages, the layer of "Eifel marble" from the aqueduct was widely reused as building material.

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