The Aqua Augusta, or Serino Aqueduct (Italian : Acquedotto romano del Serino), 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.
The route of the aqueductis well known thanks to the writings of two Italian engineers, who were asked to see if it could be brought back in use as the main water supply of Naples in the 16th and 19th centuries.
There were ten branches, seven of which were for cities while three were for some of the numerous luxurious villas in this area popular with rich Romans, such as the Villa Pollio at Posillipo. 140 kilometres (87 miles), making it the longest Roman aqueduct, with the possible exception of the Gadara Aqueduct, until the 5th century AD when the Valens Aqueduct was extended in Constantinople. The Aqua Augusta was one of the most difficult and costly aqueducts ever constructed by an ancient civilisation. Despite its size and complexity, the Aqua Augusta is today largely unknown as a major monument because most of it is underground.Including the branches, the total length of the aqueduct was approximately
The aqueduct's source, the Fons Augusteus (now known as Acquaro-Pelosi), was in the Terminio-Tuoro mountains near the modern town of Serino not far from the city of Avellino and at 376 metres above sea level. One of its main terminations was the enormous Piscina Mirabilis at the naval base and port of Misenum.
Since the aqueduct traversed such a distance, many difficulties were encountered when building it: two-kilometre-long tunnels were cut through mountains, one at the Crypta Neapolitana road tunnel and another at the Grotta di Cocceio road tunnel. Yhere was ground movement due to seismic activity and a sea crossing was needed to the island of Nisida.
There is evidence that a large number of private users were members of the Rome senatorial class. In Rome, a letter from the emperor was required to gain a private connection and so it seems that imperial favour was also a factor in accessing the Augusta's water.
The Emperor Augustus (or more likely his close friend and ally Agrippa) had the Aqua Augusta built between 30 and 20 BC.
During the war with Pompeius, Augustus ordered the construction of the Portus Julius harbour complex just west of Puteoli. Later, this harbour was seen as less ideal for the navy because of silting problems and a new major naval base was built further west at Misenum, where two lakes were connected to become the basis of the western Mediterranean war fleet. Large quantities of fresh water were needed for the base itself and for the ships, which must have been one of the reasons why Augustus had the new aqueduct built.The main cistern filled by the aqueduct is the Piscina Mirabilis in Misenum.
Such a major monument required constant maintenance; there were major repairs in the Flavian period (1st century AD) with the addition of parallel tunnels and the Emperor Constantine also engaged in a massive restoration documented on an inscription tabletdiscovered in Serino and dated to AD 324. The destinations listed are: Nola, Acerrae, Atella, Naples, Pozzuoli, Baiae, Cumae, and Misenum.
The cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae were also originally supplied by the aqueduct but being destroyed and covered by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD they did not appear on this list. The next major eruption in 472 AD left the aqueduct covered in ash and 3.5 km of the duct collapsed because of this. This cut off the supply of water to all the towns except Nola and Acerrae. The poor administrative and economic situation in Campania at this time, and Italy in general, prevented major repairs to the Augusta. Written references to aqueducts in Naples after this time only refer to other aqueducts that were now in the area.
In modern times, parts of the aqueduct, in addition to the Piscina Mirabilis were vital to the region's survival during World War II. Many locals used the areas as air-raid shelters.
There are few visible remains of the aqueduct today, although much of it still exists below ground. Traces of the original structure may be found at a number of sites in and around Naples.
It features prominently in the novel Pompeii by Robert Harris, whose protagonist is a water engineer ("Aquarius") sent from Rome to maintain the aqueduct in AD 79 during the time around the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
AD 79 (LXXIX) was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Titus and Vespasianus. The denomination AD 79 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Mount Vesuvius is a somma-stratovolcano located on the Gulf of Naples in Campania, Italy, about 9 km (5.6 mi) east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is one of several volcanoes which form the Campanian volcanic arc. Vesuvius consists of a large cone partially encircled by the steep rim of a summit caldera caused by the collapse of an earlier and originally much higher structure.
Baiae was an ancient Roman town situated on the northwest shore of the Gulf of Naples and now in the comune of Bacoli. It was a fashionable resort for centuries in antiquity, particularly towards the end of the Roman Republic, when it was reckoned as superior to Capri, Pompeii, and Herculaneum by wealthy Romans, who built villas here from 100 BC to AD 500. It was notorious for its hedonistic offerings and the attendant rumours of corruption and scandal.
Pompeii is a novel by Robert Harris, published by Random House in 2003. It blends historical fiction with the real-life eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24 August 79 AD, which overwhelmed Pompeii and the vicinity. The novel is notable for its references to various aspects of volcanology and use of the Roman calendar. In 2007, a film version of the book had been planned and was to be directed by Roman Polanski with a budget of US$150M but was cancelled due to the threat of a looming actors' strike.
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.
The Villa Poppaea is an ancient luxurious Roman seaside villa located in Torre Annunziata between Naples and Sorrento, in Southern Italy. It is also called the Villa Oplontis or Oplontis Villa A. as it was situated in the ancient Roman town of Oplontis.
Somma Vesuviana is a town and comune in the Metropolitan City of Naples, Campania, southern Italy.
Serino is a town and comune in the province of Avellino, Campania, southern Italy.
Portus Julius was the first harbour specifically constructed to be a base for the Roman western naval fleet, the classis Misenensis; the eastern fleet was based in the Port of Ravenna. The port was located at Misenum on a peninsula at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. Portus Julius was named in honour of Octavian's great-uncle and adoptive father, Julius Caesar and the Julian clan.
The Piscina Mirabilis is an ancient Roman cistern on the Bacoli hill at the western end of the Gulf of Naples, southern Italy. It was one of the largest ancient cisterns. It was built under Augustus as suggested by the building technique of opus reticulatum used in the walls.
Miseno is one of the frazioni of the municipality of Bacoli in the Italian Province of Naples. Known in ancient Roman times as Misenum, it is the site of a great Roman port.
The Suburban Baths are a building in Pompeii, Italy, a town in the Italian region of Campania that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which consequently preserved it.
The ancient Roman city of Pompeii has been frequently featured in literature and popular culture since its modern rediscovery. Pompeii was buried under 4 to 6 m of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
Pompeii was an ancient city located in what is now the comune of Pompei near Naples in the Campania region of Italy. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was buried under 4 to 6 m of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
Herculaneum was an ancient town, located in the modern-day comune of Ercolano, Campania, Italy. The city was destroyed and buried under volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
The Aqua Alexandrina was a Roman aqueduct located in the city of Rome. The 22.4 km long aqueduct carried water from Pantano Borghese to the Baths of Alexander on the Campus Martius. It remained in use from the 3rd to the 8th century AD.
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.
Of the many eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, a major stratovolcano in southern Italy, the most famous is its eruption in 79 AD, which was one of the deadliest in European history.
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.
The Bolla Aqueduct was an aqueduct in Italy, measuring 8 kilometres. It connected Naples with a marshy depression near Mount Vesuvius, which was in turn supplied by an aquifer of pyroclastic and sedimentary deposits laid down in Vesuvius' many eruptions. It reached the city at Porta Capuana before splitting into a network of underground channels leading to private wells. Its date of construction is unknown, but is estimated sometime between the 5th century BC and the Middle Ages. It remained a major water source for the city until being replaced by the Serino aqueduct in the late 19th century. The Bolla still supplies water to outer areas of Naples for industrial use.