Original paper

Roman water. A Geoarchaeological Approach to Studying the Water Supply of Moderate Roman Cities

Vermeulen, Frank


In this paper I present several geoarchaeological case studies on the identification and study of water transport to small or medium sized Roman cities. The examples are all taken from (partly ongoing) fieldwork and from observations by an interdisciplinary team of geographers and archaeologists of Ghent University, operating in three areas of the ancient Roman world: Western Turkey, central Italy and central Portugal. The three cases display a wide array of field approaches where archaeologists and geomorphologists integrate their efforts and methods to find answers to a particular archaeological questionnaire. They demonstrate the need for collaborative efforts in the specific domain of water provisioning in the Roman world, where knowledge of the ancient landscape is as vital as a good understanding of ancient technology. It is also argued that many elements of the water supply to smaller Roman towns, by way of aqueducts, need not be monumental nor to consist of well preserved remains above surface level. In the past, research on such smaller scale infrastructures has often been neglected. A cleverly designed survey strategy and the application of a set of non-destructive field methods can be sufficient to obtain good results and even spectacular new insights on the presence of such ancient infrastructures in the Roman landscape.


geoarchaeologyromanurbanisationaqueductsfield survey