Draining the ground

The survival of the city, which stood on the river terrace of the Euphrates, depended on the constant struggle against surface water and groundwater. The Mariotes built a major rainwater recovery network, as shown by the pipes and cisterns excavated in the Great Royal Palace and in some streets of City II. However, the builders of the city focused their efforts on constructing streets with absorbent pavements  – a mixture of gravel, ashy soil and potsherds  – to make it easier for rainwater to drain away.

Waterproofing the walls

The Mariotes also protected walls and floors using plaster and bitumen to waterproof pipes or channels and rooms where water played an important role. The bitumen came from sources close to Mari, including Hit in Iraq, which was the subject of intense negotiations between Zimri-Lim of Mari and Hammurabi in the 18th century BCE. All resources were local. The use of kiln-fired bricks and kiln-fired tiles for floors gradually increased around the end of the third millennium, but as they required a lot of fuel to make, they remained the exception to the rule.

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