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Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings. Civil engineering is traditionally broken into a number of sub-disciplines. It is the second-oldest engineering discipline after military engineering, and it is defined to distinguish non-military engineering from military engineering. Civil engineering takes place in the public sector from municipal through to national governments, and in the private sector from individual homeowners through to international companies.
Engineering has been an aspect of life since the beginnings of human existence. The earliest practice of civil engineering may have commenced between 4000 and 2000 BC in ancient Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization, and Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq) when humans started to abandon a nomadic existence, creating a need for the construction of shelter. During this time, transportation became increasingly important leading to the development of the wheel and sailing.
Until modern times there was no clear distinction between civil engineering and architecture, and the term engineer and architect were mainly geographical variations referring to the same occupation, and often used interchangeably. The construction of pyramids in Egypt (circa 2700–2500 BC) were some of the first instances of large structure constructions. Other ancient historic civil engineering constructions include the Qanat water management system (the oldest is older than 3000 years and longer than 71 km,) the Parthenon by Iktinos in Ancient Greece (447–438 BC), the Appian Way by Roman engineers (c. 312 BC), the Great Wall of China by General Meng T'ien under orders from Ch'in Emperor Shih Huang Ti (c. 220 BC) and the stupas constructed in ancient Sri Lanka like the Jetavanaramaya and the extensive irrigation works in Anuradhapura. The Romans developed civil structures throughout their empire, including especially aqueducts, insulae, harbors, bridges, dams and roads.
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