The Historical Development of Sewers Worldwide

Sustainability. 2014;6(6):3936-3974 DOI 10.3390/su6063936


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Sustainability

ISSN: 2071-1050 (Online)

Publisher: MDPI AG

LCC Subject Category: Technology: Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering: Environmental effects of industries and plants | Technology: Mechanical engineering and machinery: Renewable energy sources | Geography. Anthropology. Recreation: Environmental sciences

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

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Giovanni De Feo (Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Salerno, via Ponte don Melillo, 1-84084 Fisciano (SA), Italy)

George Antoniou (Department of Architecture, University of Patra, Patra 265 04, Hellas)

Hilal Franz Fardin (Social Sciences Department, Ladyss (UMR 7533-CNRS) and French Institute of Pondicherry (Umifre 21-CNRS/MAEE), Paris 8 University, 93200 Saint-Denis, France)

Fatma El-Gohary (Water Pollution Research Department, National Research Centre, Bohouth Str. Dokki, Cairo 12622, Egypt)

Xiao Yun Zheng (International Water History Association, Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, No. 577, Huan Cheng West Road, Kunming 650034, China)

Ieva Reklaityte (Department Ciencias de Antigüedad, Facultad Filosofia y Letras, University of Saragossa, P. Cerbuna 12, 50006 Saragossa, Spain)

David Butler (Centre for Water System, University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Exeter EX6 7HS, UK)

Stavros Yannopoulos (Faculty of Engineering, School of Rural and Surveying Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Hellas)

Andreas N. Angelakis (Institute of Iraklion, National Foundation for Agricultural Research (N.AG.RE.F.), 71307 Iraklion, Hellas)


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Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Although there is evidence of surface-based storm drainage systems in early Babylonian and Mesopotamian Empires in Iraq (ca. 4000–2500 BC), it is not until after ca. 3000 BC that we find evidence of the well organized and operated sewer and drainage systems of the Minoans and Harappans in Crete and the Indus valley, respectively. The Minoans and Indus valley civilizations originally, and the Hellenes and Romans thereafter, are considered pioneers in developing basic sewerage and drainage technologies, with emphasis on sanitation in the urban environment. The Hellenes and Romans further developed these techniques and greatly increased the scale of these systems. Although other ancient civilizations also contributed, notably some of the Chinese dynasties, very little progress was made during the Dark ages from ca. 300 AD through to the middle of the 18th century. It was only from 1850 onwards that that modern sewerage was “reborn”, but many of the principles grasped by the ancients are still in use today. This paper traces the development of the sewer from those earliest of civilizations through to the present day and beyond. A 6000 year technological history is a powerful validation of the vital contribution of sewers to human history.