A History of Plumbing

by | Aug 30, 2015 | History | 0 comments

Few of us think about the importance of plumbing until something goes awry, but our water supply plays an incredibly important role in our day-to-day lives. Every time we turn on a tap, take a shower or flush the loo, a sophisticated system of water delivery and distribution springs into action to make our lives easier.

Water is necessary for the survival of all living things, and people have been perfecting the art of water and waste management since the first wells were dug during the Stone Age. We’ve come a long way in the past few thousand years – but plumbing remains one of the cornerstones of human survival and civilisation.

What is Plumbing?

Plumbing refers to systems that carries water, wastewater and sewerage, and comes from the Latin word ‘plumbum’, which means lead. Historically, many pipes for water have been made from lead, and while lead pipes are now banned in most countries since lead is toxic and can cause poisoning, the words ‘plumbing’ and ‘plumber’ have stuck.

Plumbing Through the Ages

Throughout history, human settlement has been dependent on water availability, and people have devised many systems to make getting and using water more convenient. The earliest permanent water wells were dug around 6500 BC in Israel, and the intact ruins of a Neolithic village in Scotland provides evidence that water-flushing toilets were used as early as 3180 BC.

The Indus Valley Civilisation (3300 – 1700 BC) in Asia developed public water supply and sanitation, including advanced features such as private toilets connected with a covered sewer network. In Ancient Greece, the people of Crete are believed to be the first in the world to use underground clay pipes for sanitation and water supply, while their neighbours in Athens developed indoor plumbing systems that included pressurised showers.

The Roman Empire is perhaps best known for their advanced early plumbing systems, which included indoor plumbing via a complex system of aqueducts and pipes. From the 17th century, there was rapid advancement in waterworks and plumbing systems throughout Europe, along with developments in water treatment and filtration.

Modern Plumbing

Modern plumbing has revolutionised the water distribution concepts of yesteryear, with materials and techniques that allow people to get easy access to water in virtually any developed part of the world.

While people have used clay, lead, bamboo, wood and stone to create plumbing pipes and channel systems throughout history, most plumbing components today are made from steel and plastic. These materials are durable and affordable, to ensure that domestic water supply and waste management is reliable and accessible to everyone. While early plumbing systems usually relied on gravity to get water to where it was required, present-day water-supply systems use a network of high-pressure pumps, to allow water to be distributed high above ground level.

Need a plumber? Contact DDR Group now to discuss your plumbing needs.

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