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Aqua Claudia (Classical Latin: [ˈakwa ˈklawdɪa]) was an aqueduct of ancient Rome that, like the Anio Novus, was begun by Emperor Caligula (12 AD – 41 AD) in 38 AD and finished by Emperor Claudius (10 BC – 54 AD) in 52 AD. The Aqua Claudia was built between the dates of 38 AD to 52 AD, which was approximately 14 years. Its main springs, the Caeruleus and Curtius, were situated 300 paces to the left of the thirty-eighth milestone of the Via Sublacensis. Subiaco which was 45 miles away from Rome was also a water source.
The channel length was 45–46 miles (c. 69 km, most of which was underground), and volume at the springs was 191,190 cubic metres in 24 hours. Following Nero's completion of the Arcus Neroniani, one of the aqueduct's branches, the Aqua Claudia could provide all 14 Roman districts with water. Directly after its filtering tank, near the seventh mile of the Via Latina, it finally emerged onto arches, which increase in height as the ground falls towards the city. It is also one of the two ancient aqueducts that flowed through the Porta Maggiore, the other being the Anio Novus. It is described in some detail by Frontinus in his work published in the later 1st century, De aquaeductu. The church of San Tommaso in Formis was later built into the side of the acqueduct.
The Aqua Claudia maintained its structure and appearance for so long because of the ingredients inside the concrete. Romans would mix in volcanic ash which was a benefit for the concrete because it made the concrete stronger and durable. The aqueduct was powered by gravity where it drops 1 foot—exactly—at every 300 feet. Part of the structure was on solid ground while 9.5 miles of the structure was borne or lofty arches. These lofty arches were measured to be over 100 feet high. The measurement of this invention turned out to be 69 kilometers long (44 miles) and it delivered 185,000 cubic meters (48,871,829.7 gallons) of water per day to the city.
Although the Aqua Claudia was a success at first, it did have its faults where work had to be done on it again. The aqueduct went through two repairs during its standing. It was said that the Aqua Claudia was used for 10 years then failed and was out of use for 9 years. Being out of use really set the townspeople back to how their lifestyles were before the Aqua Claudia was completed. The first repair was done by Emperor Vespasian in 71 AD; 10 years after the Aqua Claudia’s first repair in 71 AD, it was repaired again in 81 AD by Emperor Titus. Some possible causes for the repairs could have been cracking of the concrete which would have led to a leakage or an object could have clogged the stream of water from making its way to the city and its people. There are many possible causes but for the causes of the repairs for the Aqua Claudia are unknown.
- Ancient Roman technology
- List of aqueducts in the city of Rome
- List of aqueducts in the Roman Empire
- List of Roman aqueducts by date
- Roman engineering
- Roman technology
- Vici.org Interactive map with the full Aqua Claudia
- Map of Rome with Aqua Claudia running (red)
- The Aqua Claudia Webpage
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