BEST IELTS General Reading Test 335

BEST IELTS General Reading Test 335


IELTS General Reading Test




In antiquity, aqueducts were a means to transport water from one place to another, achieving a regular and controlled water supply to a place that would not otherwise have received sufficient water to meet basic needs, such as the irrigation of food crops and drinking fountains. They may take the form of underground tunnels, networks of surface channels and canals, covered clay pipes or monumental bridges.

It is the Romans who rightly gained celebrity as the aqueduct builders par excellence. Hugely ambitious engineering projects successfully mastered all kinds of difficult and dangerous terrain and made their magnificent arched aqueducts a common sight throughout their empire. Roman aqueducts supplied towns with water to meet not only basic needs, but also those of large public baths, decorative fountains and private villas.

IELTS General Reading Test

Whilst most aqueducts ran along the surface and were adapted to the land contours wherever possible, the Roman invention of the arch allowed for the construction of large-span structures. Arched bridges running across the valley floor could also lessen the height water had to fall and more importantly, go up on its ascent when necessary. Stopcocks to manage pressure and regulate the water flow, storage reservoirs, settling tanks to extract sediment and mesh filters at outlets were other features of Roman aqueducts.

Sometimes, water was also ‘freshened’ by aerating it through a system of small cascades. Interestingly, Roman aqueducts were protected by law and no agricultural activity was allowed near them in case of damage by ploughing and root growth. On the other hand, agriculture did benefit from aqueducts, as in many cases run-off channels were created to provide water for land irrigation.

The Romans also employed new materials, such as concrete and water-proof cement, which could ignore unfavourable land features and draw the water along the straightest possible route giving a regular gradient. Similarly, an increase in engineering expertise allowed for large-scale projects and tunnels.

IELTS General Reading Test

Another innovation that allowed Roman aqueducts to cross valleys was the inverted siphon. These were made of clay or multiple lead pipes, reinforced with stone blocks and with the power of gravity and pressure. As the water ran down the valley, the momentum gained could drive the water up the opposite side. The quick changes of pressure and sometimes volume, depending on the lengths of the drops and rises, meant that an airshaft was necessary for equalisation when the water resumed its normal downwards flow.

One of the most significant aqueducts built by the Romans ran for 106 kilometres from modern-day Jordan to barren Palestine. Qanat Firaun, ‘The Canal of the Pharaohs,’ is what the locals call the weathered old pipeline, but research recently carried out has discovered that it was Roman work. Starting in a since dried out swamp in Jordan, it carried water to the city of Gadara, a city that has also disappeared.

IELTS General Reading Test

The aqueduct was covered the whole way, which had several benefits. Firstly, this protected the water from animals, birds and dust. Secondly, this is a very hot area in summer and the cover prevented evaporation and loss of water. Finally, the cover prevented light from reaching the water, which stopped the growth of algae that would have spoiled the water’s freshness.

Rome itself was generously served by a water system including eleven different aqueducts. When water reached Rome, it flowed into enormous cisterns maintained on the highest ground. These large reservoirs held the water supply for the city and were connected to a vast network of lead pipes. The water system was as politically motivated as any other massive public works project.

IELTS General Reading Test

Providing additional sources of incoming flow, feeding the baths or simply providing water access to more of the populace could grant great prestige. At the height of the ancient city’s population of approximately 1,000,000 inhabitants, the water system was capable of delivering up to one cubic meter of water per person per day in the city, more than what is commonly available in most cities today.

Maintenance of the water system was a continuous task, and the Romans assigned a ‘Curator Aquarum’ to oversee this undertaking. Paid labourers, slaves and the military all had parts in building parts of the water system. The Curator Aquarum maintained the aqueducts of Rome, while similar curators oversaw those in the provinces. The army, however, when building new colonies or forts, were responsible for providing their own water supply. Just as they were the great road builders of the Empire, the Romans also revolutionised societies with their aqueduct construction in outlying areas.

IELTS General Reading Test

Although famously associated with the ancient Romans, aqueducts were also devised centuries earlier in the Middle East, where people including the Egyptians built sophisticated irrigation systems. Roman-style aqueducts were used as early as the seventh century BCE, when the Assyrians built an 80- kilometre limestone aqueduct 10 metres high and 300 metres long to carry water across a valley to their capital city, Nineveh.

Much of the expertise of the Roman engineers was lost in the Dark Ages, and in Europe, the construction of aqueducts largely ceased until the nineteenth century. During this period, water was instead usually supplied through the digging of wells, though this could cause serious public health problems when local water supplies became contaminated.

The nineteenth century saw aqueductbuilding resume on a large scale to supply fast-growing cities and water-hungry industries, with the industrial revolution providing technology to push through water in areas of difficulty. In modern times, the largest aqueducts of all have been built in the United States to supply its enormous cities. The most notable are the Colorado River Aqueduct, which supplies the Los Angeles area with a 400- kilometre aqueduct, and the California Aqueduct, which runs 714 kilometres.

IELTS General Reading Test

Questions 27 – 31

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.


Aqueducts were made through history for a variety of uses and in a variety of forms. Roman aqueducts supplied the water for the (27)__________ of settlements, as well as some luxuries and some domestic demands. To make things easier, Roman aqueducts ran along the ground and followed (28)__________ if they could. They benefitted from new materials and technology to exploit the most direct routes in enormous projects, often using tunnels. The Romans developed stopcocks and storage tanks and used (29)__________ and filters to extract anything undesirable from the water. (30)__________ were also used to keep the water fresh. The Romans banned (31)__________ near aqueducts to prevent accidental damage, but farming benefitted from irrigation.

IELTS General Reading Test

Questions 32 – 34

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

IELTS General Reading Test

IELTS General Reading Test

Questions 35 – 40

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the text? In boxes 35 – 40 on your answer sheet write:

TRUE – if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE – if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN – if there is no information on this

IELTS General Reading Test

35. The city of Gadara still benefits from water brought to it by Roman constructions.

36. Political scandals surrounded the construction of many of the aqueducts that transported water to Rome.

37. Provincial curators were not responsible for providing the Roman military with fresh water.

38. The Assyrians built aqueducts that were similar in many ways to the later Roman aqueducts.

39. The use of wells following the Roman aqueduct era provided an enduring safe source of water.

40. US aqueducts today require investment from private companies, as the government refuses to invest.

IELTS General Reading Test


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BEST IELTS General Reading Test 335












37. TRUE

38. TRUE



IELTS General Reading Test

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