Aqua Appia

Last updated
Route of the Aqua Appia Aqua appia planlatium 2.png
Route of the Aqua Appia
Map of Aqua Appia in Rome Aqua appia planrome.PNG
Map of Aqua Appia in Rome

The Aqua Appia was the first Roman aqueduct, constructed in 312 BC by the co-censors Gaius Plautius Venox and Appius Claudius Caecus, the same Roman censor who also built the important Via Appia. [1]

Contents

The Appia fed the city of Rome with an estimated 73,000 cubic metres (2,600,000 cu ft) of water per day.

Route

Its source was said by Frontinus to be about 780 paces away from via Praenestina. It flowed for 16.4 kilometres (10.2 mi) to Rome from the east and emptied into the Forum Boarium near the Porta Trigemina. Nearly all of its length before entering the city was underground, which was necessary because of the relative heights of its source and destination, and which also afforded it protection from attackers during the Samnite Wars that were underway during its construction. [1]

After entering the hilly area of Rome, the aqueduct alternated between tunnels through the Caelian and Aventine Hills and an elevated section. A detailed modern model of ancient Rome shows the aqueduct running along the top of the Servian Wall above the Porta Capena. [2] It dropped only 10 metres (33 ft) over its entire length, making it a remarkable engineering achievement for its day.

The Appia ended at the Clivus Publicus at a place called Salinae below the Aventine Hill. The water was distributed to twenty reservoirs through piping. The aqueduct served the private baths of Decius and Baths of Licinius Sura on the Aventine. The level of the channel was too low to be able to provide water to the hills.

In 2017, a section of the aqueduct was excavated beneath Piazza Celimontana and has been removed for reconstruction elsewhere. [3]

Historical context

As Frontinus explains: "for four hundred and forty-one years from the foundation of the City, the Romans were satisfied with the use of such waters as they drew from the Tiber, from wells, or from springs...But there now run into the City: the Appian aqueduct, Old Anio, Marcia, Tepula, Julia, Virgo, Alsietina, which is also called Augusta, Claudia, New Anio". [4] Rome's first aqueduct was in response to the growing city and population which may have suffered a prolonged drought and major sanitary issues which affected their existing water supplies.

The Aqua Appia was the first test of Roman engineering of its type and is quite unsophisticated in comparison to Rome's ten other aqueducts. Raffaelo Fabretti, one of the first to excavate the Appia, characterises it as "The first fruits of Rome's Foresight and greatness". [5] Nevertheless, the Appia was kept in use into the era of Augustus Caesar through regular maintenance, renovations and even an expansion. Little of the original material remains today and much of information on the aqueduct comes from Frontinus who was appointed as water commissioner and recorded the technical, and some historical, details of the Appia about one hundred years after its completion.

Although there were no formal Roman predecessors for the Aqua Appia, there were plenty of examples that existed in the Greek and Etruscan world. Greek influence came from their use of terracota pipes that were laid along the bottom of a channel or a large tunnel. This technique relates to the Roman technique in that it uses a water channel within a larger tunnel. The difference between the two is the fact that the Romans began to favour masonry conduits rather than the terracotta pipes which were generally used by the Greeks throughout the history of their aqueducts. A. Trevor Hodge, in his book "Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply", mentions the possibility that the Romans could indirectly have been influenced by the Iranian qanat which is a tunnel driven into a hillside to tap an aquiferous stratum deep inside it. [6] It is believed that the Etruscan water channel system, the cuniculi is a form of the qanat and Hodge asserts that since the Romans had contact with the Etruscans and openly adopted other aspects of their culture they could have been implementing techniques and skills that were originally of Eastern descent. Etruscan water channels are also generally believed to have a great amount of influence on the Roman Aqua Appia. Their expertise in underground tunnelling served the function of draining water rather than supplying water. Nevertheless, undoubtedly the Romans gained much practical knowledge in underground water channelling from the Etruscans.

After all, the earliest aqueduct at Rome, The Aqua Appia, was itself entirely underground and in engineering if not in purpose of function, can have differed little from an Etruscan cuniculis [7]

Trevor A. Hodge, Roman aqueducts & water supply

The beginning of the Aqua Appia

Gaius Plautius Venox chose the source of the aqueduct thus giving him the nickname Venox (Hunter). However, Appius Claudius had the aqueduct named after him as, according to Frontinus, at the time that the aqueduct was being built the eighteen month terms of Plautius and Appius as censors was coming to an end and under the assumption that Appius was going to resign in appropriate fashion, Plautius went ahead and resigned in a timely manner. However, Appius kept his position by "various subterfuges" in order to extend his term to finish the Via Appia and the Aqua Appia.

The water source that Plautius is credited for is "on the Lucullen estate, between the seventh and eighth milestones, on the Via Praenestina, on a crossroad, 780 paces to the left." [8] Frontinus' text about the source of the Appia has been interpreted as "The source of the original aqueduct lay within the bounds of the vast estate of Lucullus between seven and eight miles from the city, 780 paces 1,153.62 m.) along a crossroad to the left of the Via Praenestina". [9] Although Deman does acknowledge Frontinus' records which indicate that the source is to the left of the Via Praenestina, he also brings up that rather than being left of the Via Praenestina, it is more probable that "it was left of the Via Collatina". Nevertheless, the exact location of the source is unknown but the general location can be pinpointed. It is probable that the Appia had as a source one group of springs with a single collecting basin or reservoir. The source is thought to have come from the bottom of the Alban Hills in which a stretch of marshland held the springs that fed the Appia.

Construction

From the reservoir of the source of the Appia, the water was directed into an underground conduit which ran for 10.333 miles (16.629 km) into the city. The conduit was carved out of the bedrock and the walls of the channel were lined with carved tufa stone. Furthermore, the stones were poorly cut and poorly fitted which speaks to the structural integrity of the conduit. The roof was ridged with broad shelves on either side. The earliest archaeological evidence was excavated by Raffaello Fabretti and Rodolfo Lanciani whose records show "It consisted of a considerable stretch of channel cut into the tufa of the hill, and lined, possibly at a later time, with walls of rough cut stone". Furthermore, "the channel that was cut into the rock was five and a half feet square with a vaulted roof with a rise of six inches. The walls with which the channel was lined consisted of three courses of cappellaccio (tufa) blocks, 50 to 55 cm high, laid without mortar". [10] Later, a second section was found at the corner of Via di Porta S. Paolo and Via di San Saba which measured 6 feet (1.8 m) in height and 2 feet (0.61 m) in width. The characteristics are the same as those described by Fabretti in his excavations except for the roof. The roof was ridged by the joining of two slabs of cappellaccio to form a gable. This is a similar construction found in the Anio Vetus aqueduct which could be evidence of renovations made in 144 BC.

As with most aqueducts, the conduit was big enough to allow maintenance crews to walk inside to clean out any debris or make any repairs. Also, it is most likely that there were shafts with footholes within the countryside giving access. Regular cleaning up of debris was necessary since, as Frontinus' records indicate, there was no settling tank in the route of the Appia, "Neither Virgo, nor Appia, nor Alsietina has a receiving reservoir or catch-basin". [11]

For the most part, the channel was 50–55 centimetres (20–22 in) underground throughout its course which is relatively shallow in comparison to the other aqueducts perhaps because the Romans were adapting what they knew about their practice in sewers.

Renovations and expansion

Over the years more aqueducts were built with increasing sophistication and the Aqua Appia was neglected for some time. Nevertheless, the Appia was still kept in use with a few renovations were made and it was expanded by Augustus to allow it to supply more water. In 144 BC the Senate ordered Quintus Marcius Rex to repair the leaks that were forming in the channel and to reclaim the water that was being illegally redirected by citizens who had tapped into the aqueduct. [12] Agrippa made minor repairs again in 33 BC. This phase of renovation is thought to be part of the promise made by Augustus to renovate all of the older aqueducts and add to the Appia by building a new branch called the ramus Augustae whose source was near the source of the Appia "at the sixth milestone, on the Via Praenestina, on a crossroad, 980 paces to the left, near the Via Collatina". [8] The ramus Augustae ran an independent course of 6,380 paces to the spes setus where it joined the Appia. It is this point that Frontinus refers to as Gemelli (the Twins).

Decline

By the end of the 1st c. BC, part of it seems to have been used as a sewer as a recently found section in the Metro C line below Piazza Celimontana contained household waste, particularly food remains. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sextus Julius Frontinus was a prominent Roman civil engineer, author, soldier and senator of the late 1st century AD. He was a successful general under Domitian, commanding forces in Roman Britain, and on the Rhine and Danube frontiers. A novus homo, he was consul three times. Frontinus ably discharged several important administrative duties for Nerva and Trajan. However, he is best known to the post-Classical world as an author of technical treatises, especially De aquaeductu, dealing with the aqueducts of Rome.

Aniene

The Aniene, formerly known as the Teverone, is a 99-kilometer (62 mi) river in Lazio, Italy. It originates in the Apennines at Trevi nel Lazio and flows westward past Subiaco, Vicovaro, and Tivoli to join the Tiber in northern Rome. It formed the principal valley east of ancient Rome and became an important water source as the city's population expanded. The falls at Tivoli were noted for their beauty. Historic bridges across the river include the Ponte Nomentano, Ponte Mammolo, Ponte Salario, and Ponte di San Francesco, all of which were originally fortified with towers.

Porta Maggiore One of the eastern gates of the Aurelian walls of Rome

The Porta Maggiore, or Porta Prenestina, is one of the eastern gates in the ancient but well-preserved 3rd-century Aurelian Walls of Rome.

Ancient Roman engineering

The ancient Romans were famous for their advanced engineering accomplishments. Technology for bringing running water into cities was developed in the east, but transformed by the Romans into a technology inconceivable in Greece. The architecture used in Rome was strongly influenced by Greek and Etruscan sources.

Aqua Virgo

The Aqua Virgo was one of the eleven Roman aqueducts that supplied the city of ancient Rome. It was completed in 19 BC by Marcus Agrippa, during the reign of the emperor Augustus and was built mainly to supply the contemporaneous Baths of Agrippa in the Campus Martius.

Aqua Augusta (Naples) Aqueduct

The Aqua Augusta, or Serino Aqueduct, was one of the largest, most complex and costliest aqueduct systems in the Roman world; it supplied water to at least eight ancient cities in the Bay of Naples including Pompeii and Herculaneum. This aqueduct was unlike any other of its time, being a regional network rather than being focussed on one urban centre.

Roman aqueduct Type of aqueduct built in ancient Rome

The Romans constructed aqueducts throughout their Republic and later Empire, to bring water from outside sources into cities and towns. Aqueduct water supplied public baths, latrines, fountains, and private households; it also supported mining operations, milling, farms, and gardens.

Aqua Anio Novus Roman aqueduct

Aqua Anio Novus was an ancient Roman aqueduct. Like the Aqua Claudia, it was begun by emperor Caligula in 38 AD and completed in 52 AD by Claudius, who dedicated them both on August 1. Together with the Aqua Anio Vetus, Aqua Marcia and Aqua Claudia, it is regarded as one of the "four great aqueducts of Rome."

Aqua Claudia aqueduct designed to supply water to the city of Rome, built at the time of the Emperor Claudius

Aqua Claudia was an ancient Roman aqueduct that, like the Aqua Anio Novus, was begun by Emperor Caligula in 38 AD and finished by Emperor Claudius in 52 AD.

Sanitation in ancient Rome, acquired from the Etruscans, was well advanced compared to other ancient cities and was providing water supply and sanitation services to residents of Rome. Although there were many sewers, public latrines, baths and other sanitation infrastructure, disease was still rampant. The baths are known to symbolise the "great hygiene of Rome". Although the baths may have made the Romans smell good, they were a cesspool of waterborne diseases.

Aqua Julia

The Aqua Julia is a Roman aqueduct built in 33 BC by Agrippa under Augustus to supply the city of Rome. It was repaired and expanded by Augustus from 11–4 BC.

Aqua Tepula Ancient Roman aqueduct

The Aqua Tepula is an ancient Roman aqueduct completed in 125 BC by censors Gnaeus Servilius Caepio and L. Cassius Longinus.

De aquaeductu is a two-book official report given to the emperor Nerva or Trajan on the state of the aqueducts of Rome, and was written by Julius Sextus Frontinus at the end of the 1st century AD. It is also known as De Aquis or De Aqueductibus Urbis Romae. It is the earliest official report of an investigation made by a distinguished citizen on Roman engineering works to have survived. Frontinus had been appointed Water Commissioner by the emperor Nerva in AD 96.

Aqua Marcia Ancient Roman aqueduct, built 144–140 BC

The Aqua Marcia is one of the longest of the eleven aqueducts that supplied the city of Rome. The aqueduct was built between 144–140 BC, during the Roman Republic. The still-functioning Acqua Felice from 1586 runs on long stretches along the route of the Aqua Marcia.

Piscina Publica

In ancient Rome, the Piscina Publica was a public reservoir and swimming pool located in Regio XII. The region itself came to be called informally Piscina Publica from the landmark. The piscina was situated in the low-lying area between the Via Appia, the Servian Wall, and the northeast slope of the Aventine Hill, an area later occupied by the Baths of Caracalla.

Acqua may refer to:

Aqueduct (water supply) Structure constructed to convey water

An aqueduct is a watercourse constructed to carry water from a source to a distribution point far away. In modern engineering, the term aqueduct is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose. The term aqueduct also often refers specifically to a bridge carrying an artificial watercourse. Aqueducts were used in ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, and ancient Rome. In modern times, the largest aqueducts of all have been built in the United States to supply large cities. The simplest aqueducts are small ditches cut into the earth. Much larger channels may be used in modern aqueducts. Aqueducts sometimes run for some or all of their path through tunnels constructed underground. Modern aqueducts may also use pipelines. Historically, agricultural societies have constructed aqueducts to irrigate crops and supply large cities with drinking water.

Quintus Marcius Rex (praetor 144 BC)

Quintus Marcius Rex was a Roman politician of the Marcii Reges, a patrician family of gens Marcia, who claimed royal descent from the Roman King Ancus Marcius. He was a paternal great-grandfather of Julius Caesar.

Aqua Anio Vetus

The Aqua Anio Vetus was an ancient Roman aqueduct, and the second oldest after the Aqua Appia. It was commissioned in 272 BC and funded by treasures seized after the victory against Pyrrhus of Epirus. Two magistrates were appointed by the Senate, the censors Manius Curius Dentatus who died five days after the assignment, and Flavius Flaccus. The aqueduct acquired the nickname of "old" (vetus) only when the Anio Novus was built almost three centuries later.

References

  1. 1 2 "Aqua Appia". www.romanaqueducts.info. Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  2. Photographs of models showing the layout of Aqua Appia and Aqua Marcia in the city of Rome
  3. The Local It: https://www.thelocal.it/20170406/metro-workers-have-accidentally-discovered-romes-oldest-aqueduct
  4. Frontinus The Aqueducts of Rome, 4
  5. Deman 22
  6. Hodge, p.20
  7. Hodge p. 47.
  8. 1 2 Frontinus 5
  9. Esther Boise Van Deman 25
  10. Deman 27
  11. Frontinus 22
  12. Pliny, 36.121
  13. Rome Metro workers accidentally discovered an ancient aqueduct https://www.thelocal.it/20170406/metro-workers-have-accidentally-discovered-romes-oldest-aqueduct

Other References

Coordinates: 41°53′22″N12°30′40″E / 41.88944°N 12.51111°E / 41.88944; 12.51111