Air conditioning has come a long way since its invention over 100 years ago. In fact, it's heavily responsible for today's summer blockbusters. Yet, prior to the last century, there was a long history of human civilization where electric air conditioning wasn't available. People had to be inventive in their architecture:
The Romans Used Aqueducts to Cool Their Buildings
The invention of plumbing has been marked as late as 8,500 years ago in the midst of the Neolithic period. The Greeks actually used pressurized water to help fight fires. The Romans used it throughout their cities.
Aqueducts brought water from nearby rivers, streams, and lakes into their cities. The cooler water from the mountains was run through aqueducts into pipes that fed through the walls of their homes and public squares. The water in these pipes cooled their air around them and, subsequently, the air in the rooms.
Middle Eastern Countries Used Underground Reservoirs to Cool Air
Not all civilizations had pipes to help. In the Middle East, where midday temperatures are often well above 100° F during the day, people employed a different tactic — underground pools.
Before beginning construction on any buildings, people would dig out areas four to five feet deep into the ground for pools of water. They would then build above them. Even at depths of only one foot, the average soil temperature is 47° F. When the air flowed over the water, it not only cooled but also dehumidified.
Many Civilizations Used Wind Towers
In Iran, Egypt, and other countries, wind towers were used to catch air and cool it. These towers were often around three stories tall and had either one, four, or eight openings. Depending on the resources available, the wind towers use one of three ways.
The first was to build them so that they caught wind and forced it down over reservoirs beneath buildings, doubling the efficiency of the cooling pools. The second was to use the towers to catch wind, which was cooler than the stagnant air inside a home heated by the sun, and force it down into the building where it pushed the warm air out.
The third way was to design them with adjustable openings and open them at night to catch cool air and trap it under the building. Then, during the day, the wind towers would close and the night air beneath the building would keep everybody cool during the day. To learn more, contact a company like Travers Plumbing & Heating Inc. with any questions or concerns you have.