"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

4 Things the Roman Aqueducts Can Teach Us About Securing the Power Grid

Back then, as now, the perception of risk had a direct correlation to how systems were designed. Over time, a decreased sensitivity to security risk in ancient Rome resulted in design modifications that made the aqueducts more vulnerable to disruption. Roman engineers began to incorporate architectural “advances” into the aqueduct system, adding magnificent arcades with arches and other above-ground structures that advertised Roman greatness.

Unfortunately these structures also made the aqueducts vulnerable to exploitation, because the water supply was no longer protected underground. Thus, the infrastructure changed from a hidden and purpose-built system into a visible symbol that invading forces found appealing. Eventually those vulnerabilities were exploited by invading German tribes, who damaged the aqueducts, disrupting water supplies. The disruption of large portions of Rome’s aqueducts contributed to the symbolic capitol’s diminished role in the western Empire and imposed further limits to Rome’s military, economic and political power–all of which played a part in the fall of the Roman Empire. As the flow of water dwindled, so did the hope of Rome’s ability to repel the foreign invaders. Ironically, the only aqueduct left in commission after these invasions was the Aqua Virgo, which had been built underground. Link

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