Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill

Fontvieille , Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur , France

About Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill

The fascinating Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill archaeological site contains the ruins of an ancient water-powered milling complex and gives crucial insight into Roman use of water-powered engineering.

Not a technology often associated with the Romans, the Barbegal Mill demonstrates that far from being ignorant of such technology, the Romans actually pioneered this kind of harnessing of water power for industrial use.

Probably built in the early 2nd century AD, there are actually two ancient aqueducts that are found within the area of Barbegal, the Eygalières aqueduct and the Caparon aqueduct. Both served to supply the nearby city of Arles, Roman Arelate, while a sluice gate siphoned off water to the mill.

The Barbegal Mill itself was a huge complex built into the slope of the hillside and utilising 16 water wheels to power the massive flour mill. It is thought this industrial-scale operation provided the majority of the bread for the inhabitants of ancient Arles.

Today however, only a hint of this impressive complex survives. Sections of the Barbegal Aqueducts can still be seen as can the outer walls of the Barbegal Mill. The Museum of Arles contains a model of the complex demonstrating how it may have appeared in its heyday.

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