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Roman Republic: Res publica Romana • View topic - Roman Surveying #2

Roman Surveying #2

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Roman Surveying #2

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:28 pm



Roman Surveying during the period of the Republic and the Empire was really exemplary in the fact that they accomplished so much with so little compared to our present day practices.  In regard to the instruments used in the construction of roads, aqueducts and other large undertakings two men stand out in the discussions of these tools and the description of them and their use.  Sextus Julius Frontinus and Marcus Vitruvius Pollio both  wrote about these instruments used during the period.  These were the only major writers of this subject to be saved from the fire and obliteration of the great library at Alexandria in the year AD 642 

Master Macus Vitruvius Pollio who was considered a master of architecture during this period, presented a total of ten books called the ‘De Architectura Libri Decem’ to the Emperor Augustus Caesar, was had acted as his patron and advisor.  This book was provided to Caesar in the approximate period of 20BC.  In this raft of books Vitruvius provided a discussion in regard to the Roman Leveling Instrument called a “Chorbates.”  The purpose of this instrument was to be used as an instrument for leveling hydraulic gradients to house and cities as well as to aqueducts.  One of Rome’s great problems was in the supply of clean water to the city of Rome. The River Tiber was so polluted from human and animal waste that it was unusable as a water source.  So water sources from the nearby highlands was sought for a clean water supply.  The problem was to transport this clean water to the city of Rome in such a way as to provide water for all in the city.  This problem was solved by the use of aqueducts.  Ten such aqueducts ordered built as the cities’s population grew, which transported water from several lakes and streams.  Now, in order for an aqueduct to operate correctly the construction must assure a clean means of transporting the water from a higher elevation to a lower one in such a way that the water does not run too fast or too slow, and the construction must take into consideration to be large enough to take care of a heavy flow of water in the rainy seasons, and facilities to clean the waterways of mold, marine growth, and blockages.  All these concerns were addressed in the documents written by these two authors.  In the matter of  hydraulic gradient one of the tools used was the ‘chorbates”(or the Roman Spirit Level) an instrument described:

“. . . . as a rod 20 feet long with duplicate legs attached perpendicularly at each end.  Diagonal pieces connect the rod and the legs, and both diagonal members have vertical lines scriven into them, over which plumb bobs are hung.  When the instrument is in position, and the plumb-lines strike both the scribe-lines alike, they show the instrument is level.  If the wind interferes with the plumb lines, the water level at the top of the horizontal piece is used.  Vitruvius instructs that the water level groove was to be "five feel long, one digit wide, and a digit and a half deep".  By using two or more chorobates, established levelly, the vertical distance between instruments could be established by sighting along the depth of the uphill instrument, to a rod placed atop the lower chorobate.”

The chorobates was composed of a wooden frame, made in the frame of a bench-like structure with weighted strings on its sides for measuring the ground's angle on a system of notches, and a short channel in the centre, likely for testing the direction of the water flow (O'Conner, 1993: 45). It was mostly used for the levelling of aqueducts. It was probably too unwieldy for general levelling (Dilke 1971:76). It was also probably too unwieldy to use in the construction of tunnels, being too big to manoeuvre easily in confined spaces. The idea was that the surveyor could insert wedges under the legs of the chorobates until it was at level and, by looking through the eyeholes, a graduated staff could calculate the angle of an incline via trigonometry. The chorobates was an excellent instrument for leveling ground before building, certainly helping the Roman engineers to lay out the groundwork before construction proper began.  The idea was that the surveyor could insert wedges under the legs of the chorobates until it was at level and, by looking through the eyeholes, a graduated staff could calculate the angle of an incline via trigonometry. The chorobates was an excellent instrument for leveling ground before building, certainly helping the Roman engineers to lay out the groundwork before construction proper began. 

References:

>> Adkins & Adkins, “Handbook To Life In Ancient Rome,” Oxford Univ. Press, New York / Oxford, 1998;

>> Peter Connolly, “Greece and Rome At War,” Prentice-Hall Inc., 1981;

>> Building Roman Roads; http://explorable.com/roman-roads;

>> Roman Surveying; http://www.surveyhistory.org/roman_surveying1.htm;

>> Aqua Clopedia, A Picture Dictionary of Roman Aqueducts; Tools; http://www.romanaqueducts.info/[icturedictionary/po_onderwerpen/tools.htm;

>> Chorobates; W http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorbates;

>>Images for Chorobates, Roman Surveying Tool; G http://www.google.com/search?q=Chorbate ... ari&ris+e;

Respectfully Submitted;
Marcus Audens


Marcus Minucius Audens
 

Groma

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:26 pm

Groma.jpg

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