Elements of Roman water system emerge at Stabiae

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Elements of a water system, including a decorated lead reservoir, have re-emerged during the ongoing work for the modification of architectural barriers at the Villa Arianna in the ancient Roman city of Stabiae on the Bay of Naples.

The archaeological cleaning carried out in the small peristyle (colonnaded garden) of the Villa has once again brought to light this element, already identified about a decade ago, which was part of the ancient water distribution system inside the building.

Detail of lead water tank [Credit: Parco Archeologico di Pompeii]

The reservoir, in particular, represents an extraordinary find for the Vesuvian area, due to its state of preservation and because it was found in its original position. Together with the other sections uncovered, it allows us to appreciate how it functioned, which was both to regulate the flow of water and to distribute it to the various rooms of the villa.

Connected to a large lead tank, two pipes were revealed that fed the heating system of the villa as well as the fountain that probably embellished the impluvium (the central water collection tank) in the atrium. Finally, the decorations adorned the structure which had to be partially visible, to allow access to the two stop keys that allowed to regulate the flow of water or to close it completely to allow maintenance operations of the systems.

2,000-year-old water tank with conduits and stop keys from Villa Arianna in Stabiae [Credit: Parco Archeologico di Pompeii]

“A tank like this, with its stop keys, falls within that type of installations and apparatuses that seem almost modern because of the way they are made and that have always aroused amazement since the first discoveries between Stabia, Pompeii and Oplontis. The ancients also in this case have not renounced an ornamental element, an astragal in relief, which perhaps characterised the workshop that produced it, like a modern trademark, and which in any case must have been visible, since the tank was placed above above the floor level. A further example of how accessibility, knowledge and protection complement each other, which we are going to explain to the public as part of the Park’s open building sites”, underlines the Director Gabriel Zuchtriegel

Source: Pompeii Sites [October 24, 2022]

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