Mr. Sedivy's History
Historical Figures Architecture



US Flag

Mr. Sedivy's
History Classes:

More Features:

Site Search
History QuotesHumor
Submit Links/Info
LinksWhat's New?
Shop for Stuff



Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

World History
Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

Class Activity:
Roman Aqueduct Project

Judicious Habeas Corpus

You are one of four magistrates with duties confined to Rome. As an Aedile you are in charge of the care of aqueducts, buildings, streets, markets, theaters, brothels, saloons, public courts, and public games. Proposed routes ‘D’ would be necessary for your grand plan. All drawn up is an artificial lake and stadium to stage mock naval battles. Its location is in the southeast section of the city. Some problems you have to overcome would be that patrician tombs are in the way and Senator Caecillius Remus Villa on Lake Albano would be disturbed. Good luck! Your climb up the career ladder depends on the success of your plans.

Gaius Sempronius Gracchus

You are the champion of plebeian rights. Public lands in the country have been given away due to you and your brother, Tiberius. You have gotten the roman senate to agree to the dole. You are solidly behind building the new headquarters...if they deliver water to the tenements. Proposed route ‘B’ is the only one scheduled to bring water to that area. A problem with the route is that it would require tearing up patrician tombs. Fight hard for the Plebeians, they worship you!

Caecilius Caveat Remus

Your family is relatively new to the patrician ranks. Your grandfather, caveat emptor Remus, made a killing in the financial district by the forum. The wheat trade with North Africa gained him instant fame. The continued success of your family depends on more water for the downtown district. Proposed route ‘A’ is the best for your interests. The length and the amount of structures required are the drawbacks for this route. Your grandfather is buried in a tomb along the route of aqueduct ‘B’. Disturbing any tomb bothers you. May your family continue to prosper.

Julius Flaccus Archus

Your family has had a long tradition of engineers and architects. Your latest masterpiece was aqua alsietina completed just two years ago. It featured the brilliant arched aqueduct over the Tiber River. Your major concerns are with building the aqueduct structurally correct and on time. Proposed route ‘C’ is the best route from an engineer’s standpoint. It has the best fall line and will require the fewest structures. The drawbacks are that if it is very long, and the Aqua Julia, which it would flow into, is falling apart. Another problem rests in the shortage of slave labor due to the work needed on the proposed Stadium Lake. Try to convince the committee to go with your plan.

What was the Roman Republic like?

A generation earlier Rome had defeated her arch enemy, Carthage, in the third Punic War. Rome’s chief rival was out of the picture and the republic had been saved. The Mediterranean Sea was on its way to becoming a Roman lake.

Rome’s economy had change dramatically. Hannibal’s invasion of the Italian peninsula, in the second Punic War, forced the Roman farmers to burn their fields. When the war was over the only people with enough money to fix the farms were patricians and rich business people. They developed huge estates called latifundias. Staple crops like wheat were replaced by cash crops such as olives and grapes. Many became sheep and cattle ranches. This system required more slaves, and the romans began using their conquered people in this manner.

The small farmers had two choices. They could stay and work on the estates or move to Rome. Many opted for Rome. What awaited them was not a pretty sight.

They could only afford to live in wooden apartment buildings, six or more stories high. The aqueducts that brought water water to the city were not connected to these apartments. They had to rely on water from wells.

Most farmers could not earn a living in the city. Except for construction, Rome had almost no industry. Most businesses were staffed by Greek slaves, who were better educated. Many farmers earned money by selling their votes to politicians.

Rome was ruled by 300 aristocratic senators, who were elected for life. They held absolute power in the republic. The once powerful consuls were appointed annually by the senate. The Plebeian assembly was the lower house and they were elected every year. The champion of the Plebeians was the tribune. Tribunes took an oath to defend the lives and property of the plebeians. Tribunes had recently become members of the senate, and could only serve one term. They could veto any government action. The most powerful were Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus.

Thanks to the brothers Gracchi, the poor were beginning to see their standard of living rise. Some public lands were given to them and free wheat was given away on the dole.


Special committee for the Roman Senate

Given four proposed routes for an aqueduct, A, B, C, or D, your committe must rank them one through four. One being the best; four being the worst.

Construction on the number one route will begin immediatly. Number two can be started in ten years. Number three in twenty years. Number four in thirty years. Barring invasion by the Gauls or a civil war.

Follow this format in your committees:

1. Anaylize the map
2. Each member of the committee presents their reasons for their aqueduct.
3. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal.
4. Persuede other committee members to join your side.
5. Use the politics of give and take to reach an agreement.
6. Complete the report to the senate.
7. Have a spokesman give your recommendations to the class.

Additional Information

We will estimate the population of Rome to be 500,000 people at this point. At the time of Augustus, census takers counted 1,000,000 people.

Tiberius Gracchus and hundreds of his followers were killed in 133 B.C. Hired thugs are believed to have done it.

Depending on the terrain, it took about a year to build five miles of aqueduct.

The aqueduct had to be built with a constant slope from beginning to end, to keep water moving.

Short tunnels were required to go through hills.

To prevent people from stealing the water, the aqueduct had to be raised at least 50 feet above the ground.

Gallic, Numidian and Greek slaves provided most of the labor for these projects. As the empire grew other slaves were used for labor.

Huge construction camps accompanied the project, and had to be moved along with the progress of the aqueduct.

Back to Ancient Rome


Back to the Top



Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Modern European History | Advanced Placement European History | Rise of England | World History |
| Home | Back to the Top |