The Aqua Augusta and control of water resources in the Bay of Naples
Duncan Keenan-Jones, Macquarie UniversityAustralasian Society for Classical Studies Conference 31, Perth, Australia 2010
AbstractRead the article here.
This paper investigates the Aqua Augusta, one of the most difficult and costly aqueducts ever constructed by an ancient civilization. It focuses particularly on the control and use of the Augusta’s water.
It is likely that at least a promise of the Augusta was made during Augustus’ confrontation with Sextus Pompey and construction was probably completed early in Augustus’ reign as princeps. Despite its size and complexity, the Augusta has been largely neglected by historians of ancient water technology, of ancient Campania and of the Augustan period. The route of the aqueduct is well known via the writings of two Italian engineers who were contracted to assess the feasibility of bringing it back into use as the water supply of Naples in the 16th and 19th centuries. It started at the Acquaro and Pelosi springs in the Apennine mountains, at 371m above sea level, and ended at the western tip of the Bay of Naples not far above sea level. Unlike other Roman aqueducts, which were almost all focused on one urban centre, the Augusta was a regional network supplying eight or nine towns, as well as numerous villas, through ten branches: Nola, perhaps Pompeii, Acerrae, Atella, Naples, then three branches supplying villas, Puteoli, Cumae, Baiae and Misenum.