11 Mar 2019

Ancient Port Structures - An engineer’s perspective

Portus’ north breakwater showing imprints of transverse caisson beams (de Graauw, 2011)

This paper aims to compare ancient and modern port structures hoping that the modern can help us in a better understanding of the ancient, with special focus on breakwaters and quay walls. Archaic shipping and the oldest known port structures are briefly presented. Vertical breakwaters and quays, large concrete blocks, pilae and arched breakwaters, piling walls, moulded structures, in-the-dry constructions, rubble mound breakwaters and training walls are described in the ancient and in the modern world. A few geomorphological aspects of coastal harbours are also reviewed. It is concluded that most natural shelters were used in Roman times, but some major ports have been built in places without any natural shelter, for strategic or economic reasons. Most of today’s concepts for maritime structures were already existing in Roman times and it seems that little progress was made until the 18th c. when large maritime structures started to be built again. The combination of reinforced concrete and steel enables modern engineers to build higher, deeper and larger than Roman engineers could dream of, but some modern structures may not last as long as some Roman structures, especially in salt water

Read more at https://www.academia.edu/38518614

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