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Impressive Feats of Engineering – #1: The Ancients

The engineering industry has been on the go in some form for hundreds, even thousands, of years, and during that lengthy timeframe a wide variety of impressive feats have been achieved. In this, the first of an ongoing series of articles, we’re going to be looking at some of the most impressive engineering projects of all time. Like all things, it pays to start at the beginning, so we’re going to kick things off with some truly ancient, and undeniably exceptional, feats of engineering.

The Aqueduct of Segovia

Aqueduct_of_Segovia

What?

You may not have heard of this one, but the Aqueduct of Segovia in Spain is undoubtedly a great feat of engineering. Taking the centre stage upon modern day Segovia’s coat of arms, the aqueduct is a work of ancient Rome, and is one of the best preserved monuments of its type.

When?

The construction date of the Aqueduct of Segoiva is uncertain, as no inscription relating to the building date survives. However, most scholars put the aqueduct as a work that took place during the reigns of the Emperors Domitian, Nerva and Trajan, but in any case it’s almost 2,000 years old.

Why?

The Aqueduct of Segovia contains more than 160 arches measuring at over 9 metres in height, was built entirely without mortar and – despite its age – is still functioning according to its intended purpose even today. Sure, a few reconstructions have been needed, but that’s highly impressive.

 

Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan

What?

You’ll know Teotihuacan by sight, although maybe not by name. ‘Teotihuacan’ means ‘the place where men become Gods’, and this place was the largest pre-Columbian American city. The Pyramid of the Sun is the most famous structure there, but the complex was actually eight miles squared.

When?

Completed around 100 BC, major monuments in Teotihuacan were still under construction until about AD 250. The city itself endured until somewhere between the 7th and 8th centuries AD, but eventually it was burned down around AD 550.

Why?

Teotihuacan consisted of more than 2,000 separate structures, and the Pyramid of the Sun was the third tallest pyramid in the world (around 224 metres high). We’d say that makes the name ‘Teotihuacan’ pretty apt, and it definitely qualifies as mildly impressive, to say the least.

 

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

What?

Literally meaning ‘crown of palaces’, the Taj Mahal is a world famous mausoleum built from stunning white marble. Constructed in memory of the founder’s third wife, the Taj Mahal is the archetypal example of Mughai architecture, ‘the jewel’ of Muslim art and a highly beloved heritage site.

When?

The Taj Mahal took around 20 years to build, and over 20,000 workers were needed to do so. We’re not entirely sure of the exact dates that are in question here, but it’s generally considered to have been completed around 1653. Perhaps not truly ancient then, but we couldn’t leave it out!

Why?

Up to 28 varieties of semi and precious stones were used on the exterior of the Taj Mahal, and over 1,000 elephants were needed to bring materials from all over Asia to the building site. Oh, and by the way, the entire building is totally symmetrical. Impressive? This should be the dictionary definition.

 

The Great Wall of China

Great Wall

What?

Stretching for literally thousands of miles, the Great Wall of China needs little introduction. Contrary to popular belief though, the Great Wall is not actually visible from space, although NASA have seen it under perfect conditions from low earth orbit, so there’s a glimmer of truth to the myth.

When?

The Great Wall was actually built over a period of 2,000 years. The earliest section of the wall goes back to 400BC, whilst the ‘modern’ version probably hails from the 15-17th centuries AD.  The majority of the existing wall is attributed to the famous Ming Dynasty.

Why?

Because of its many rebuilds, enhancements and additions, the Great Wall is easily the longest-running engineering project in world history. When you factor in all of the merges and expansions that were needed to meld all the separate ‘walls’ into one, we reckon that’s impressive.

 

The Great Pyramid

Great Pyramid

What?

Hands down the most recognisable monument on the planet, the Great Pyramid wasn’t built by aliens… and we’re very glad of that fact! If it had some kind of extra-terrestrial assistance involved, we’d have struck it from our list. Needless to say, that would have left one heck of a gap.

When?

The Great Pyramid was finished around 2504 BC, which makes it more than 4,000 years old. For almost all this time, it was also the tallest structure in the world, which isn’t bad considering that we can’t even work out how the Egyptians moved just one of the 2.3 million, tens of tons stone blocks.

Why?

5.5 million tons of limestone. 8,000 tons of granite. 500,000 tons of mortar. 30,000 workers. Only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World. Built in as little as 23 years. Just one of more than 100 pyramids in Egypt’s history. Still an example of perfect architectural lines. Yeah, we’re impressed!

 

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we’re passionate about the engineering industry, past and present, and that’s exactly why we make the very best power transmission products – like Boschert equipment – available to all of the engineering industry today. You may not be dealing with pyramids, but you still need quality, so if you’d like to find out how we can help you today, to contact us by calling 01926 411 544 or emailing us at sales@motion.uk.com.

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