OT Ventotene and Roman Engineering

Slightly off-topic, I was watching leftist PBS last night at two programs, one about the Parthenon, the other about sunken Roman ships. The second program turned out to be a lot more about the Roman Empire itself, and how they made engineering a facet of every part of their lives. What's also fascinating is how much the US resembles Rome, in both positive and negative ways.
If there is an afterlife, I hope it involves being able to visit historical sites like the Pyramids, the Parthenon, the Coliseum when they were brand, spanking new. It must have been something to see, in a land devoid of large buildings, a pyramid with its limestone sheathing intact or one of the Greek temples, painted in riotous colors with huge statutes with enormous amounts of gold and jewels.
Harry will appreciate how the allegedly morally superior Brits stole the carvings right off the Parthenon's roof for their museum and to this day refuse to return their stolen booty to the rightful owners, claiming, interestingly enough, the same sort of right to them that Israel claims for its itself, namely "We bought it from the Ottomans, fair and square!" What the Ottomans are doing selling Greek heritage is less than clear, even to the experts, but still, the English are hanging on to their stolen antiquities.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elgin_Marbles
<<A study by Professor David Rudenstine of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law concluded that the premise that Elgin obtained legal title to the marbles, which he then transferred to the British government, "is certainly not established and may well be false">>
The Romans pioneered things we use in the home almost every day. They showed how, on the island of Ventotene*, where Augustus exiled his slut daughter**, how they built a water collection system using hydraulic cement, decantation pools and tunnels sloped precisely to cause water to flow fast enough not to stagnate but slowly enough not to just spill out on the other end. The system still produces 250K gallons of water per year. How many of our systems will be working 2,000 years from now? They put the catch field on the highest part of the island and built cross-shaped cisterns to hold the water after the debris was decanted. The Romans even invented MSG! They allowed fish to rot, producing a substance called garum, which apparently is addictive because of the monosodium glutamate. They put it on everything, even sweetcakes.
Most fascinating to me was that the amphora design may have caused the ship to sink. If you've ever seen a Roman amphora . . .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphora
. . . many of them have pointed or very narrow bottoms and can't stand alone. The Romans designed them to be stackable and interlocking, so the pointy bottoms became legs for a huge array of bottles. The problem was, if one of the bottles on the edge of the array cracked, the whole assembly pitched toward the broken amphora, breaking even more of them and changing the very balance of the ship, allowing it to be easily swamped and sunk. I wonder if the Romans had a version of our modern FAA accident investigation teams? (-: RGB? The Roman Galley Bureau?
The Parthenon ep showed the tools they used to manipulate huge marble blocks that they mated together within 1/20 of a millimeter. One of the tools was a flat stone with hands on each end and funnels scattered over the surface that allowed sand to pour through. These were worked across the top of each column segment (drum) until they were perfectly flat. They also showed how they checked for a tight fit, using colored clay the way we, today, might crayon mark a sticking door to see where it was binding.
Then, as today, the Romans controlled alcohol licensing, and only Roman merchants could make and sell wine in the provincial areas. I guess their version of the ATF would be the WGS (Wine, garum and spears!)
Fascinating stuff, and completely apolitical. (0: "Nova" has always, in my mind, been the flagship of the PBS network and still teach me stuff at this old age.
-- Bobby G.
* Ven'toe-ten-Ay ** She turned out not to be a slut, but a political conspirator against her father.
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::...leftist PBS...?
HB
last night at two programs,

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wrote:

They're getting better. For a while, every stinking Nature program turned into an accusatory scold. "See this forest? - YOU killed all the trees with your voracious desire for wood." I stopped watching for a few years after my fifth or sixth tele-indictment for crimes against nature. It reminded me of the very old National Lampoon magazine cover: "Buy this magazine or we'll shoot this dog!"
-- Bobby G.
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wrote: <stuff snipped>

In Roman times, women were nothing. The only power they had was purely manipulative. You ever hear of a Roman woman equestrian, senator or emperor/ess? They were pawns in the aristocracy used in political marriages.
This was normal in ancient societies. There were very few exceptions such as Cleopatra and Hatsepshut. Can't think of a Roman one. Can't even think of a woman American president. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Hatshepsut - I remember because it's got "she" in the middle.
Don't forget Pope Joan:
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/doubleissue/mysteries/pope.htm
Things hardly ever worked out for the female leaders in Britain:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica
-- Bobby G.
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This puerile crack vitiates your comments. One has no desire to read further.
[...]
HB
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