• Alcantara Bridge

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    For me, one of the most interesting historical sites in the world is the Alcantara Bridge, which connects Caceres, Spain with Condeixa-a-Velha, Portugal. It was built by the Romans in 106 BC, and it is still in use today. You can drive your car across this bridge!


    (Picture is from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alc%C3%A1ntara_Bridge)

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    • #218054

      Really appreciate things that do what they were built to do… and that last!


      Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

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      • #218308

        The only real damage that this bridge has suffered over the centuries was done for military reasons, to stop an advancing army. It has been damaged and repaired three times.


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    • #218076

      Simple elegant useful object, most surely the acts involved and perhaps invoked for it caused untold pain and suffering to the workers who contributed to its construction. In a way still being able to make use of this bridge maybe constitute a gesture of appreciation.

      I guess it is also good that this wasn’t the set of materials chosen to be adhered to Microsoft Surface computers, steering wheels, yachts, or other objects.

    • #218081

      The Romans were masters when it came to using two strong and durable building materials: concrete and brick. With them it was possible to build as solidly as with stone, but the ingredients they use for the former: quicklime, construction rubble, volcanic ash, sand, were easily transported, as were bricks that can be used with great flexibility to build many different parts of a building and that in large construction projects could be made on site. As a result still stand, and not as mere ruins, many bridges, aqueducts that even today snake across the surrounding plains towards Rome, huge underground cisterns for  the storage of drinking water, such as those in Istanbul, cathedrals that are barely modified Roman basilicas (as in Ravenna, the last capital of the Western Empire), and old temples, most notable of all the Pantheon in Rome. And many of those structures, while they look old to one’s eyes, at a guess perhaps one or two hundred years old, give no indication that have actually stood, right where now one can see them, for so many, many centuries and much of Western history.

      That is what I find most amazing about some Roman structures and buildings that survive almost intact: one cannot guess by just how they look their true great age. Because they are truly ageless.

      And the second most amazing thing to me is that their architects built all that and more using only Roman numerals in their calculations and without the zero… Or did they?


      (If you can drag your eyes past one of Slug Signorino’s famous drawings, then do read what’s underneath, written by the mythical Cecil Adams, that is even more interesting.)

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      • #218307

        A universal feature on Roman bridges and buildings is the arch. The arch gets stronger as more weight is applied to it, because the additional weight pushes the arch stones together more solidly than when less weight is applied, resulting in a stronger structure. However, the Romans didn’t invent the arch; the arch came from the Sumerians, who were the first great civilization in southern Iraq after Noah’s flood. Interestingly, we knew nothing about the great Sumerian civilization until about 150 years ago, when archaeologists were finally able to decipher the Cuneiform tablets that they had been digging up in Iraq.

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