As urbanisation increased and the city of Rome grew it was essential to build and maintain public infrastructure, buildings, roads, bridges, aqueducts, bridges, public baths, toilets and sewers all had their own specific maintenance needs and specialised technologies. There was an array of public roles such as:
- Censors like Appius Claudius could initiate infrastructure projects such as roads and aqueducts – they also had control over taxes!
- Aediles oversaw public buildings and festivities. Julius Caesar is known to have been Aedile for a time
- “curator operum maximumorum“: Oversaw large public works
- “curator viarum“: In charge of roads
- “curator statuarum“: Was in charge of statues across the city
Particularly noteworthy is the textbook manual De aquis urbis Romae -“about the water of the city of Rome” – written by the ancient Roman engineer Sextus Frontinus. Frontinus was responsible for the statio aquarium department (water works) at the time of the five good emperors after Nero. Frontinus’ department had been instituted at the time of Augustus by his son in law Agrippa (who is particularly remembered for having first built the Pantheon, later refashioned by Domitian and Hadrian.
The bureaucratic machine has already been mentioned and whilst we have looked at the construction of the aqueducts it is worth noting the great deal of effort required for their maintenance. To start with, the water of Rome is particularly hard, meaning that liming (calcium deposits) in pipeworks and channels is continuous and consequently requires continuous, planned maintenance attention.
Further attention had to be paid to normal maintenance and of course for the identification and stopping of unauthorised theft of water. Some 700 people worked in the bureaucracy and maintenance of the water system at Rome.