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  • Writer's pictureApu Winery

The Cantalloc Aqueducts: Gravity Flow Inspiration



The Cantalloc Aqueducts, located in the Nazca region of Peru, are an ancient engineering marvel that date back to over 1,500 years ago. These aqueducts were built by the Nazca civilization to transport water from underground springs to their agricultural fields. The ingenuity and skill used to build the aqueducts have fascinated historians and engineers for centuries, and their principles are still being applied today in modern water management.


The Nazca civilization built these aqueducts using a combination of underground and above ground channels. The underground channels were constructed by digging deep trenches and lining them with stone slabs to prevent water loss due to seepage. The above ground channels, on the other hand, were built on elevated embankments to provide a gravity-based flow of water. These channels were designed to be very narrow to reduce evaporation, which helped in conserving water during the dry season.


One of the most remarkable features of the Cantalloc Aqueducts is the spiral design of the above ground channels. The Nazca engineers built spiral-shaped stone towers at intervals along the channels, which served as access points for maintenance and allowed the water to flow in a circular pattern. This design also helped regulate the flow of water, preventing flooding during the rainy season.


Today, the principles of the Cantalloc Aqueducts are still being applied in modern water management. One of the most significant applications is in the design of irrigation systems. The use of underground channels to prevent water loss due to seepage and the construction of elevated channels to provide gravity-based flow are still widely used in modern irrigation systems. Similarly, the use of narrow channels to reduce evaporation and the regulation of water flow to prevent flooding are also commonly applied. Here at Apu, we considered their gravity flow systems when designing the channels that bring water to our vineyards.


In conclusion, the Cantalloc Aqueducts are a testament to the ingenuity and skill of the Nazca civilization. Their principles are still being applied today in modern water management and engineering projects. The use of underground and elevated channels, narrow channels to reduce evaporation, and regulation of water flow to prevent flooding are all techniques that have stood the test of time. The spiral design of the aqueducts has also inspired modern innovations, such as the spiral water turbine. The Cantalloc Aqueducts are a prime example of how ancient engineering can continue to influence and inspire modern technology.


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