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How the Roman Legion Encampments got their Water: The Roman Stones

Remains of the Roman WaterwayThe philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote with pride of the Romans, and of their proud discoveries and engineering success: “Indeed, whoever sees the fullness of the waters which are so cleverly directed into the city in order to serve public needs, whoever views the towering-high aqueducts which are necessary to guarantee the conveyance of the waters properly, whoever thinks of the mountains through which it was necessary to bore , and the valleys which must be filled in, one must admit that in all the world has nothing else to offer that is more amazing.”

Water also served as a means of preserving the population’s standard of living. With the help of an aqueduct, this valuable commodity could be transported over kilometers to military bases and other cities. The Mainz occupation forces of antiquity owned an absolute architectural wonder -- the highest aqueducts north of the Alps – in their Mainz waterworks. The “Roman Stones” to be found in the Zahlbach part of town are all that remain of these splendid constructions.

The route of the waterway covers about nine kilometers or six miles starting at the water source in Finthen. The mains first ran underground, then surfaced, and finally ran overhead on arched viaducts above the ground . In order to overcome the differences in surface level, the supports in Zahlbach attained their greatest height: more than 25-meters or 77-feet, the equivalent of an eight-to-ten-storey building. Of all this genius, grandeur and engineering, only the “Roman Stones” remain today.


The remains of the supports can be seen in the Untere Zahlbacher Strasse.