Script sous-titrage anglais du film L aqueduc romain de Nîmes DVD 1 L aqueduc romain de Nîmes - PDF

Script sous-titrage anglais du film L aqueduc romain de Nîmes DVD 1 L aqueduc romain de Nîmes [Nîmes Roman aqueduct] In the year 58 BC, Julius Caesar prepares to go to war against some sixty Gallic tribes

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Script sous-titrage anglais du film L aqueduc romain de Nîmes DVD 1 L aqueduc romain de Nîmes [Nîmes Roman aqueduct] In the year 58 BC, Julius Caesar prepares to go to war against some sixty Gallic tribes in the central and northern regions of Gaul. The South has been a Roman province for about fifty years. Caesar s legions wage bloody battles across the entire territory for eight years. The Gallic Wars end with Vercingétorix s famous surrender at Alésia. The death toll is high: Romans to Gauls. Vanquished, Gaul becomes a Roman province. The Pax Romana spreads across Gaul within no time. There are two keys to understanding why the Romanization of Gaul was so successful. Firstly, the Romans started by cleverly ingratiating themselves with the Gallic aristocracy. These dignitaries were soon speaking Latin and doing as the Romans do. Within three generations, the Gauls had become Roman. The second key had to do with urban development. A regulation stated that anyone who wanted to rise in society had to possess an urban residence. Thus the elite were forced to live in the cities in order to become Roman citizens or senators. Here we are on the banks of the Gardon, in the Transalpine Province, in the year 50 AD. The Pax Romana reigns all over Gaul. The Roman Empire and the local aristocracy want to develop the city of Nîmes, known as Nemausus at the time, which is strategically situated on the natural routes between Rome, Spain and Southern Gaul. Having learnt that Nemausus has a water shortage because its spring flows too weakly, Rome sends some engineers over there to build an aqueduct. The chief engineer has just come back from the springs in the Eure valley in order to plan the aqueduct with his assistant. The chief engineer: The chief engineer: I ve been to the Eure springs. Perfect! They flow all year long. And the water is clear and abundant. It s just so far from Nîmes. The most important thing is to make sure the springs are on a higher level than Nîmes. Judging by the terrain I have just crossed, they probably are. Not a lot, but So the aqueduct will have a slight slope. The water flow won t be too strong. And we ll put the water under pressure from Nîmes s castellum. Ah Nîmes, a lovely city, with enough fresh air, but not enough water. Yes. However, right here the river flows strongly. But we must cross it. Have you got any ideas? An aqueduct-bridge! Good, then we agree. And the stones for the construction of the bridge? Any ideas? Not far from here, downstream. The rock is soft and the layers firm. No, what s worrying me the most is the flood-line: over 34 feet, according to the locals. That s a lot. We ll add pier-heads to the five piers of the first level. And have you given any thought to the height of the bridge? Around 170 feet. It won t be easy. There ll have to be several levels. And regulation basins upstream. We ll need at least one at the beginning of the aqueduct. It s feasible. If we go for the bridge, the narrowest place to cross is a little way downstream. Let s go and see on the spot. At the same time we ll examine the layout on the other side. It s not going to be simple! [The Eure springs] [Uzès and the Eure valley] [The Belvedère des Garrigues] [Claude LARNAC, author of books and documents on Nîmes s aqueduct] The catchment area is all of this. It s a huge basin with a surface of about fifty square kilometres. The rain that falls here filters down and re-emerges at the Eure springs. The springs are around here, Nîmes is that way. In between are hills that reach 200 metres above sea level, while the springs are at 70 m, so the water had to go round these hills, roughly following this route. The distance between Uzès and Nîmes, as the crow flies, is some 20 kilometres, while the aqueduct s course is about 50 km long. The first criterion for water quality is the existence of an abundant spring. We can see its effect here. But nowadays half of the water goes to the town of Uzès and the surrounding villages, so the water volume in the days of the Romans was probably double what it is today. Then there is of course the clarity of the water; and also the quality of the environment: here are magnificent trees and birds, so the water was considered to be fit for drinking. The basin is situated practically at the starting point of the aqueduct. When water-flow was too strong and the aqueduct was in danger of bursting, one could deviate some of it this way. Here you can see a sliding gate system which made it possible to open or close this opening, so they could send a suitable amount of water to Nîmes without putting the aqueduct under too much pressure. The aqueduct basically consists of a large U. This horizontal part, on which the water flowed, is called the apron. Then there are the two side walls containing the aqueduct, that were built with mortar; obviously mortar isn t waterproof, so in order to make the aqueduct watertight, the Romans applied this layer. It s called bat concrete: it contains fragments of brick and tile, which makes this layer impermeable. Above it you have the vault which protects the aqueduct. It s not really part of the aqueduct itself. It s not a hydraulic element. This vault has some weak points. For instance, halfway to the top it tends to open up, which can cause the whole central part to collapse. But when the aqueduct was underground, which they generally were and for a good reason, then the earth exercised pressure and the vault held. Thus the water could circulate underground, which limited evaporation, prevented vandalism and also made the structure unobtrusive. That s why nowadays we discover aqueducts when we carry out road-works in the countryside. Come see here. I d like us to examine this stretch. First, the springs. We said a regulation basin at the beginning, to limit the water-flow during heavy rains. No problem, the terrain lends itself to it. However, someone will have to be on permanent standby to work the sluice gates. Look, I ve been working on the aqueduct-bridge. It s going to be majestic. The riverbed does pass underneath this arch? Yes. We ll build the piers directly on the boulders. Pier-heads We ll add them. But the heights of the arches are worrying me - especially those spanning the river. They re going to be enormous and difficult to build. There is a solution. You add a third level which supports the canal. Ah yes, a third level with smaller arches. It will enhance the harmony of the construction. And the finishing touch: cover slabs to protect the canal. [The aqueduct-bridge of the Gard] Plans of the Pont du Gard clearly show that it was built at the spot where the Gardon was at its narrowest. Obviously this was intentional, so that none of the pillars would be in the water. It s the widest arch of any Roman aqueduct in the world; the distance between the two pillars is about 24,5 metres, which is quite an achievement. This arch could span the Corinthian Channel, or you could fit Nîmes s whole Maison Carrée underneath it. The foundations are very shallow. They consist of big boulders imbedded in the rock as you can see there, about 10 cm deep. No mortar was used. The stones were also stacked without mortar. So this level is quite vulnerable, even though it has to withstand the Gardon s torrents, especially during floods. That s why it is protected by those outcrops with a prism form on a triangular base, called pier-heads. Now we go to the second level. One immediately notices that the arches are perfectly superposed: the pillars of the second level are co-axial with those of the first level. Obviously they don t have pier-heads, because the water will never rise that high. There are eleven arches on this level. Looking at the surface, one can see some protruding stones, we call them headers. They supported the planks and scaffolding during construction. An arch is basically a half-circle resting on straight pillars, and where the pillars and the arch come together there is a small bulge called an impost. The bigger the arch, the wider its radius and the lower its impost. The two imposts of the biggest arch are relatively low. Further towards my right, the imposts of the next three arches are all on the same level - these arches all have the same width. And then to the far right, that impost is higher, so the arch on the far right is narrower. Now let s go to the third level. Here we have thirty-five arches, consisting at their base of medium-sized stones. These are quite big and in the uppermost level at that, so mortar was used this time. This third level basically consists of the aqueduct which is the raison d etre of the Pont du Gard. What is the Pont du Gard in essence? It s a scaffolding erected between the two banks of the Gardon to support this aqueduct which is 65 m high, compared to the 18 m of the riverbanks. A site like this is actually fascinating. This construction was conceived two thousand years ago, with the barest of means and the simplest techniques, and yet, thanks to his intelligence, man succeeded in creating something which worked. I think the Pont du Gard is not just a vestige; it s a living witness testifying that man, from the time of Homo sapiens, has been capable of reasoning, just like we are today. The difference between the Romans and us is that we are born into a world with cell-phones, radio, television and the rest - an environment which facilitates things for us. But we are no more intelligent than those who came before us. I think we have to pay this tribute to them. This stretch is problematic. The rock is hard; we should dig a tunnel, but it s impossible. There is a solution. We skirt the hillside and go round the plain. It will take longer, but it s sure to work. And no tunnel. There s another problem: the Clausonne lake. We ll have to cross it! Not necessarily. We can go along the banks. But there is the risk of water from the lake filtering into the aqueduct. In fact, how are the Sernhac tunnels progressing? I miscalculated the levels. The tunnels aren t in line any more. But don t worry, we ll start over. That s the way I like it. [The Sernhac tunnels] Here we are in the first of the Sernhac tunnels. To dig this tunnel, one team started at the one end, another team at the other end around where that shaft is. They met up at a certain point. Here we can see spade marks; it was the meeting point. This one looks quite good a job well done. Here we come to one of the vertical shafts the Romans had dug to get down into the canal. It was an entrance for the diggers. These are cavities where the stone-cutters put their oil lamps. They say the diggers worked for as long as the oil lamps burned a working day of ten or eleven hours. Here s an aqueduct vestige, a pier, extensively damaged because when the quarry started functioning again during the Middle Ages, people took these perfectly cut stones from inside the canal. And over there is something quite extraordinary: there s an error down here; the quarrymen who worked from that shaft made a mistake. They misjudged both the depth and the direction, so that when they had dug half of the tunnel, they totally missed the other team that was here to the right of them. In fact, these very errors help us to understand what the aqueduct s underground course looked like. [Nîmes s castellum] The castellum is not a water tower as one might imagine - it s a supply basin. Keep in mind that when the water reached the top of the supply vents that you see here, there was about 25 cubic metres of water, in other words litres. Now Nîmes already had inhabitants, so there was about a litre per inhabitant ready and under pressure. That s more than a reservoir - it s a supply basin. So, the water passed through these openings that you see here. It arrived through this square opening over there which measures about 1,20 metres on each side. The water probably filled the basin up to the top of these vents. That s about one metre above ground level. So there was about a metre of water inside, which was sent to town via ten pipes going together in pairs: two here, two here and so forth. Maybe there was a stretch here where there were no pipes for the first few metres, probably so people could see the water flowing, which was important from a psychological point of view. It s corroborated by the concretions that we see here: we ve found coins in these concretions, coins thrown there by people. These coins enabled us to establish some kind of chronology for the functioning of the aqueduct. There were probably some copper pipes here at these sluices, which might have been about this high and consisted of two parts that could slide, permitting, when there was too much water, to evacuate some of it towards the sewerage system. They could even remove these pipes completely and then these three sluices could absorb the totality of the aqueduct s supply. It means that one could for instance carry out repairs on the canalizations without affecting water supply to the castellum. The fundamental issue here is pressure, because it s by pressure alone that water could be sent to the upper floors of houses and that you could for instance thoroughly clean the sewerage system. That s the basic reason why the castellum was situated on a higher level than the town, which is about 10 to 12 metres lower. Any other worries? Actually, yes: it s going to be expensive. Who s paying? Nîmes s notables are financing everything. They have to win votes, after all. And of course, it s good for the Empire s image to build a small Rome in this province. So we ll have chariot races and gladiators here too! Yes, well Let me remind you that we have an enormous task ahead of us: at least ten years work. And we cannot afford to put a foot wrong. Traduction : Johanna BOURDIN
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