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ROTA The various kinds of wheels are described under CURRUS, MACHINA, MOLA, TYMPANUM; and the rota aquaria for raising water under ANTLIA: but, as regards the last, it is necessary to add a few words in explanation of the cut here given, showing the portion of an actual Roman water-wheel, lately (1889) acquired

Wooden wheel, for raising water from mines. (British Museum.)

by the British Museum. It was found in the Rio Tinto mines in the south of Spain, which were worked by the Romans for silver and copper: its excellent preservation, though entirely of wood, and perhaps dating from the time of Nero, is accounted for by the action of the cupreous water with which it was saturated. The water was taken up in the boxes at the outer circumference (which are covered, but with an opening at the side) and discharged into a trough, when the wheel had nearly completed its half-revolution. The water is then lifted into a channel about fifteen feet above the original level: another wheel (or pair of wheels, for they are found in pairs) then raises it to a higher channel, and so by a succession of stages it is removed from the mine. The wheels were probably turned by slaves by means of ropes, of which some remains have been found attached to the wheels, and in such a position that they could be worked with the feet, as a treadle, as well as with the hands (Stevenson in Archaeologia Aeliana, 7.279). As was stated under ANTLIA Vitruvius describes three kinds of water wheels (10.4): this kind is not exactly like any of the three, but is an improvement upon No. 2 (that with the modioli attached), because that wheel could only raise water to a height equal to half its diameter, whereas the wheel shown in this article could raise it to a height nearly equal to the whole diameter, which in this example is little short of fifteen feet.


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