Thursday, 16 May 2013

The cost of Roman Infrastructure

It's all too easy to stare up at some great Roman building and ponder its engineering and its longevity, but how often do we consider how much it cost? The Romans, just like us, existed in a world of liquidity, needing to find money to build private and public infrastructure and buildings - and these things didn't come cheap. At the time of Pliny, Rome was served by nine aqueducts, the newest of which, the  forty-five mile long Aqua Claudia, had been completed in 52AD at the cost of 350-million sesterces - that's as much as $8.75-billion folks - which is an enormous amount of public money. Mind you, it could deliver 185,000 cubic metres of water to Rome each day, so it's drain on the public purse was symptomatic of Rome becoming the largest consumption city in the world would see until the rise of the modern European and North American consumption cities in the late 19th-century. For more on Roman consumption you can read 'A Body of Doubt' - available from Amazon, just follow the links