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Ancient Plumbing

Plumbers in Sydney and around the world today are just the latest group of people to learn one of the world’s oldest crafts. Though we think of plumbing as flushing toilets, complex systems of steel pipes, and efficient drains, plumbing at its basic level is controlling and directing water to where it is wanted and needed. At this basic level, humanity has seen and needed plumbers for thousands of years.

ancient plumbingThe Indus Valley:

The civilisation termed as the ‘Indus Valley Civilisation’ existed during the Bronze Age (which covered approximately 3300 BC to 1100 BC) in what is now Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of India. At its height, the civilisation would have consisted of over five million people. The people of the Indus Valley were ingenious when it came to hydraulic engineering and created some of the world’s first water supply and sanitation devices. Most strikingly, they are believed to have created the first system of flush toilets. These toilets were in many homes and were connected to a shared sewage pipe.


Iran has been a dry country for thousands of years. The rivers that the people rely on are seasonal and cannot meet the demand of large settlements. So, over three thousand years ago, the Persians created specialised networks of canals known as qanat. They are the equivalent of the Roman aqueducts and there are qanats from close to three thousand years ago that are still used by Iranian people today.


The plumbing in Ancient Rome could be mistaken for plumbing in modern-day Sydney. The Romans are credited with the creation of the aqueduct but many of their engineers would have been familiar with similar systems in Etruria and Greece. The city of Rome had its water supplied by 13 aqueducts due to a history of poor water quality, and they had a complex system of stone-covered sewers. Their biggest triumph in terms of sewage is the Cloaca Maxima, which has become one of the best-known sanitation artifacts of the ancient world.

Though not all plumbing contractors in Sydney and around the world are aware of it, their profession is the descendant of these great civilisations.

If you are looking for a plumber in Sydney, call G.F. James Plumbing on (02) 9649 1099 or go online to

Geoff James
Written By:

Geoff grew up in Berala near Lidcombe in Sydney and attended Birrong Boys High School where he finished his Year 10 school certificate. Geoff was encouraged by his uncle to consider plumbing as he had done a bit of plumbing work on weekends during his school years. DJ Childs Plumbing in Canterbury offered him a plumbing apprenticeship and he spent most of his time working on plumbing maintenance and new roofs on commercial sites. Geoff on Google+.