Information system of ancient Greek hydraulic works

V. Kanellopoulos, Information system of ancient Greek hydraulic works, Postgraduate Thesis, 83 pages, NTUA, Athens, July 2007.



The main purposes of the current application are: (a) gathering and archiving of all available information which is characterized by lack of homogeneity, (b) codification of the above information, (c) facilitation of its analysis using informatics tools to perform queries or to make maps and (d) an easy access from the general public and researchers to all available information. The aim of this system is not to develop a sophisticated informatics tools, but mainly to create a basic information pool concerning ancient Greek water knowledge. In order to serve this task continuously, the system must be enriched and be extended gradually, incorporating new findings.

A web based application is developed, to inspect all the available information concerning the hydraulics works in ancient Greece. The application includes the necessary informatics tools to manipulate and analyze the various information types and also make the processed information available on the Internet. The main futures of the application are a Database (DB), a Geographical Information System (GIS), a Digital Library (DL) and a Website that integrates the entire system. These features are described below: In the DB the organized information about each hydraulic work is being stored. The main table of the DB contains fields such as: (1) name, (2) region, (3) type-main, (4) type-secondary, (5) use-main, (6) use-secondary, (7) period of construction, (8) brief description, (9) today's condition of the structure and (10) remarks. The region includes the name of the site and the Greek geographical area. The type of the hydraulic work (main or secondary) can be: aqueduct, dam, tunnel, cistern, lavatory, canal, siphon, river control works, spring, sewers, agricultural drainage works and urban drainage works. The use of the hydraulic work (main or secondary) can be: Urban or irrigation water supply, urban or land drainage, flood prevention and urban sewerage. The construction period of each work can be: Minoan and Cycladic (3500-1200 BC), Mycenaean (1600-1100 BC), Archaic (about 800-500 BC), Classical (500-336 BC), Hellenistic (323-146 BC) and Roman (146 BC- 323 A.D.). Also another 'period' (Mythology) has been created to include several hydraulics works described in myths. These myths come from the prehistoric period and exist in Greek ancient literature. Most of them refer to the labours of Hercules and describe several river control works, such as river diversion and land reclamation. The GIS includes the geographical location of each structure and is related to the DB to perform queries and make maps. For example the areal distribution of the hydraulic works is strongly related with the region where each civilization flourished. It is obvious that the structures are concentrated to three specific areas: Crete Island, Peloponnesus and Athens, the cradles of Minoan, Mycenaean and classical Greek civilizations, respectively. In the DL the large amount of information (in several formats) that is related with each structure, is stored and managed. This information includes: (1) scientific papers (or their web links), (2) reports with technical characteristics, (3) drawings and maps, (4) multimedia (photos, videos, movies), (5) related web sites, (6) references of the structure from classical texts and (7) references of the structure from scientific papers. Finally, using Web pages the researcher can access the other three subsystems (Database, GIS, DL), also through Internet.

Recently ancient water technologies and management practices are being revisited with an increased interest. Motivated from this, an information system is developed to support the scientific research about ancient Greek engineering practices and to disseminate this knowledge to the public. A quick view of the gathered information reveals that ancient Greeks effectively tackled several water problems that modern societies still have to face up. Knowledge and experience from that distant era are worth to study even today. Among these are: (a) the sustainability that characterizes several management practices and hydraulic works (some of the latter are still in function up to date), (b) the type and magnitude of projects related to the special socio-economical characteristics and (c) the specific engineering solutions that have been applied.

Up to this moment the information system contains information about 50 important hydraulic works from the Minoan era up to the Roman period. It is scheduled that the Database will be completed in the future. Also a classification of water management practices and hydraulic devices will be included. Finally, the information will be expanded in space (other parts of the Ancient Greek world) and time (the Byzantine period).

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