Paleohydrological Research and Engineering

WWE staff members, through our non-profit organization, Wright Paleohydrological Institute (WPI), have studied the water resources management and infrastructure design practices of several ancient civilizations including the Inca, the Ancestral Pueblo people and the Romans.  We have found that many of the ancient civil engineers designed for sustainability as well as aesthetics.  Two decades of field studies by WPI revealed that some ancient engineers possessed an uncanny ability to design structures that endure.  This is evident in the vast amount of prehistoric construction that still exists for us to study and admire.  The crux of these remarkable skills, superb drainage and structural and foundation design, existed in many cases in the absence of a written language, use of the wheel, or the availability of iron or steel.

We invest time and money to study the sustainability of the work of ancient people because we believe prehistoric engineers can teach us much about our own engineering practice.  Careful planning, sustainable design concepts, strategies for longevity, and integration with the natural surroundings are ideals that shape our ancient study sites and our current projects.

WWE staff members also combine paleohydrology with engineering at various sites like the historic Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, Buddhist and Hindu temples that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Asia and a prehistoric water garden in China.  At these sites, we use modern sustainability practices to design flood protection and dewatering measures to preserve cultural and historical resources.