Wednesday, September 18, 2013


There were eleven aqueducts in ancient Rome and, when there were nine at the time of Nerva (96/98), they supplied Rome with about 1,000,000 m³ of water per day, equivalent to 1 billion liters per day (265 million gallons): an average of about 1,000 liters (265 gallons) per head every day
It is a huge amount of water, considering that the people of Rome nowadays is provided with an average of about 500 liters each, half the amount
The total length of the aqueducts was 472 km (294 miles)
We have precise information on the first nine aqueducts from the book by the Curator Aquarum (Waters Minister) Frontinus, written in 97 AD
The four aqueducts of the Aniene Valley (Anio Vetus, Aqua Marcia, Aqua Claudia and Anio Novus) alone provided about 75% of the water
They were all cut in 537 AD by Vitige the king of the Goths. Many were built elsewhere in the empire: there was one in Tunisia in Cartagena from Mount Zaghoua all on arches for 80 km (50 miles)
The Romans were also builders of DAMS:
More than 100 were found for sure, especially localized in the southern empire including that of Proserpine in Spain 70 m wide (230 feet) 21 m high (69 feet) and 427 m long (1,400 feet), which is still used to supply water to Merida, or that of Homs in Syria 14 m wide (46 feet), 7 m high (23 feet) and 2,000 m long (6,560 feet)
312 BC Censor Appius Claudius Cieco the same one who had built the Appian Way
From the 8th mile of the Via Prenestina
16 km and 561 m (10 miles), the shortest, almost all underground
It used to provide half of the urban area with 73,000 m³ per day (19,285,000 gallons)
It entered Rome in the area known as Spes Vetus (Porta Maggiore), passed through the Celio, Aventino and ended in the Forum Boario
It has not been found, apart from a few urban sections made in blocks of tufa
272/269 BC Censors Manio Curio Dentato and Furio Flacco with the spoils of war after the victory over Pyrrhus in the years 280/275
From the Aniene River near Vicovaro
63 km and 640 m (39 miles)
175,920 m³ (46,500,000 gallons)
It entered Rome in the Spes Vetus, crossed the Esquiline and ended near where the Termini train station is today
During the imperial period the intensive urbanization of the area between Vicovaro and Mandela caused water pollution. From then on the water was only used for irrigation and fountains
144 BC Praetor Quintus Marcius Rex
From the valley of the Aniene River (Arsoli - Agosta)
91 km (57 miles) of which 80 (50 miles) underground, the longest one
187,600 m³ (49,500,000 gallons)
It entered Rome in the Spes Vetus, followed the route of the future Aurelian Walls at Porta Tiburtina and from there to Via Marsala. It ended near the present-day Ministry of Finance, and branched off in several areas, including the Capitol Hill
About 360 years later its branch Aqua Antoniniana (named after Caracalla, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus) provided water for the Baths of Caracalla (211/217), another branch was used for the Baths of Diocletian (284/305)
Restored by Hadrian I (772/795)
Pius IX Mastai-Ferretti (1846/78) had Luigi Canina (1795/1856) restoring it and opened the ACQUA PIA ANTICA MARCIA whose end is the Fontana delle Naiadi in Piazza della Repubblica
125 BC Censors Cneo Cepione Servilius and Lucius Cassius Longinus
From Tusculum east of Frascati
18 km (11 miles)
17,800 m³ (nearly 5 million gallons)
It entered Rome in the Spes Vetus and continued as the Aqua Marcia
The water was hot, hence the name tepula
33 BC Marcus Agrippa
From the source Squarciarelli (Tusculum) same area of the Aqua Tepula
21 km and 677 m (13 miles)
48,240 m³ (12,700,000 gallons)
It was merged in the same conduit of the Aqua Tepula 
19 BC Marcus Agrippa
Springs at Salone on the eighth mile of the Via Collatina towards Via Tiburtina, in the Ager Iucullanus between Rome and Tivoli
20 km (12.4 miles) all underground but the last two
Water pure and light with no limestone
100,160 m³ (26,500,000 gallons)
It used to enter Rome on the Pincio Hill, then on to the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon and it used to end in Largo di Torre Argentina at the Baths of Agrippa
It is the only one of the eleven ancient Roman aqueducts to have been always working with only short periods of closure
It was restored by Hadrian I (772/795)
In 1453 Niccolò V Parentucelli (1447/55) commissioned Leon Battista Alberti a new restoration of the aqueduct. It ended in the area known as Trejo with a small fountain, then replaced in 1762 by the current Trevi Fountain where the water is still brought today by this aqueduct which is nearly 2,000 years old
From the beginning to the end of the aqueduct there is a difference of just 6 meters (19 feet)
2 BC Augustus (27 BC/14 AD)
From the lakes of Bracciano and Martignano
33 km (20.5 miles) all underground
15,680 m³ (4,142,000 gallons) the smaller water flow
The water was not drinkable and probably served to feed the huge Naumachia of Augustus built in the year 2 BC (533 x 354 m - 1,750 x 1,161 feet: the stadium where the naval battles took place in the area stretching from today's Piazza Mastai and Piazza San Cosimato
The naval battles took place about 100 years later in another Naumachia built by Trajan in the area where today is Via Cola di Rienzo
Begun in 38 by Caligula (37/41) and completed in 52 by Claudius (41/54)
From the valley of the Aniene River, at the 38th mile of the Via Sublacense, from the springs Curzio and Ceruleo in the area Arsoli/Agosta
69 km (43 miles) of which 16 km (10 miles) above the ground, including the famous arches of 10,508 m (6.5 miles) in the Roman countryside
184,280 m³ (48,500,000 gallons)
It entered the Spes Vetus with the double arch of Porta Maggiore
Nero (54/68) built a branch (the so-called AQUEDUCT OF NERO) to the Celio Hill, as the Aqua Appia, and then had it finish at the Temple of Claudius
Domitian (81/96) took it to the Palatine Hill
Restored by Hadrian I (772/795) to provide the area of the Lateran
It is the most monumental with arches of 17/22 m (55/72 feet) of average height. In the Quadraro area they are as high as 27.40 m (90 feet)
Begun in 38 by Caligula (37/41) and completed in 52 by Claudius (41/54)
From the Aniene River near Subiaco
87 km (54 miles)
189,520 m³ (50,000,000 gallons) the biggest water flow and the highest arches near Capannelle
It came to the pool known as Piscina Liminaria located in the Capannelle area: from there went to the terminal Spes Vetus, relying on the arches of the Aqua Claudia
The water was taken directly from the river, so it often came to Rome rather murky, particularly after long rains. In order to eliminate the inconvenience, Trajan (98/117) had to move the spot for the collection, drawing more water not from the river but from a clear lake that was by Treba Augusta, modern Trevi in the Lazio region
109 by Trajan (98/117)
From near Lake Bracciano
32 km and 500 m (21 miles)
It entered the Janiculum from Porta S. Pancrazio feeding the mills in Trastevere and the baths of Trajan
It was reopened by Paul V Borghese (1605/21) who built an arch of travertine, known as ARCO DI TIRADIAVOLI (Arch of throw devils) to span Via Aurelia almost at Porta S. Pancrazio
The engraving on the arch reads AB· AVG· CAES· EXTRUCTOS (built by the Emperor Augustus) proof that the pope and his architects evidently believed, wrongly, that they had restored the Aqua Alsietina, actually built by Augustus for his naumachia or naval stadium, and not the Aqua Traiana
The same error is present in the inscription of the FOUNTAIN OF THE ACQUA PAOLA where the aqueduct ends
226 Alexander Severus (222/235)
From near Colonna, opposite to Gabii
It follows the Via Prenestina. Brick arches, an element powerful and light at the same time, which allows for a straighter route
22 km (14 miles). Cut by the Lombards in 775 and re-opened by Adrian I (772/795)
Restored in 1589 by Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) and called as his first name ACQUEDOTTO FELICE, "Felix or Happy Aqueduct". It is visible now in Tor Tre Teste and it ends with the Fountain of Moses
Built originally by Matteo Bartolani da CittĂ  di Castello (about 1527/about 1598), who made a wrong project (the aqueduct sloped towards the source and not towards Rome) and was replaced by Giovanni Fontana (1540/1614), brother of Domenico and expert in hydraulics, who completed it in two years
For the construction he used some materials of the Aqua Claudia and the arches of the Aqua Marcia, so this persuaded Pope Sixtus V in the mistaken belief that he had brought the Aqua Marcia and the Aqua Appia back to Rome

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