The History of Plumbing

Yagla History of Plumbing

The History of Plumbing

The word “plumbing” has a long history. As with most of our words, it has latin root: Plumbum meaning lead. Now you know why lead on the periodic table is Pb. The word came of use primarily during the Roman Empire when lead was used in creating intricate water systems and aqueducts. While the Romans used lead to create the first effective pipes, they merely updated a previous concept.

Experts agree that the plumbing system that most resembles the modern version started in the Indus Valley Civilization in Asia during the Bronze Age around 2600 BCE. They used earthen pipes to transport water from dwelling to dwelling which were equipped with private bathrooms, drainage systems, and baths. They also had bathrooms with septic tanks, much like our modern-day bathrooms.

One of the most impressive feats of water systems was King Nebuchadnezzar II sprawling castle and gardens in Babylon. According to translated writings, the king’s castle boasted bathrooms, latrines, and a covered sewage system. Luxury in the 6th century BC!

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Indeed, the sprawling structure featured flowers and plants that weren’t native to the desert area. Irrigation of the gardens was a feat of engineering in and of itself.

“[T]he water would likely have been transported through a pumping system made of reeds and stone and stored in a massive holding tank. From the tank, a shaduf (a manually-operated water-lifting device) would have delivered water to the plants.”

Let’s jump ahead a couple of millennia to 1829 AD and travel to Boston where the most luxurious and high-tech hotel was designed by Isaiah Rogers – The Tremont. A marvel of innovation with gas lighting, private and secure rooms, and a patented communication system to beckon service from the front desk, or rotunda. What truly set the Tremont apart as a modern wonder was its running water system, pumping cold water to the bathing rooms, kitchen, laundry, and, blessedly, the eight individual water closets in the lobby. Rogers designed many other hotels which spurred a boom in luxury hotel construction and soon became known as the father of the American hotel.

Plumbing systems are vital for public health and sanitation, not just bathrooms and kitchens. Numerous diseases and other health risks have been eradicated by having clean, running water. Heating and cooling (HVAC), waste removal, and potable water delivery — everything we’re experts on here at Yagla Engineering Systems — are only a few common uses for plumbing. So, next time you’re taking your morning constitutional, think about how lucky you are.




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