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You wander around the Aspendos site, with its forlorn smalli-ish monuments on the windy hill, until you turn a corner.The aqueduct in the distance comes marching across the valley to its counterpart.Building Big honored the gods, always a priority for the anxious Romans. The Etruscans had built temples and presumably other public buildings. In the ancient Mediterranean world, water was always in short supply. Materials would be stone and marble, materials of wealth and durability, not of wood and tile.Its sole purpose was to flood an arena (Naumachia) for his mock sea battles.For the Baths of Caracalla, water came from a purpose-built aqueduct--the Antonine--into cisterns that could hold over 2 million gallons.Wells and nearby rivers simply were not sufficient.Aqueducts were essential, and many of the 1000 cities of the Empire gained them. Pliny wrote: "The terrestrial orb offers nothing more marvelous." Remnants of the aqueducts pop up in the countryside and in cities from Rome to Spain to Turkey to North Africa.
In the hinterlands, a lack of engineering skills among the few who remained in a city made it too difficult to maintain them. At the end of a Roman aqueduct, castella received and stored the water.The later Roman rulers were Las Vegas-like in their extravagant use of water in an arid climate.Emperor Augustus built a dedicated aqueduct, the Alsietina or Augusta.Though the Romans did not calculate flows, we know the "carrying capacity" of ten of the aqueducts for the City of Rome was around 300 gallons of water per Roman per day.In comparison, San Francisco, CA, which today is similar in size, terrain, climate, and source of water, uses only 83 gallons per resident per day (2009).