The Water of Rome: From Ancient Aqueducts to Baroque Fountains with Dr. Dimosthenis Kosmopoulos

The Water of Rome: From Ancient Aqueducts to Baroque Fountains with Dr. Dimosthenis Kosmopoulos


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“Water is the first principle of everything” said the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus. The Romans, just like other civilizations, understood the importance of water since the Republican times. The Popes later funded the construction of great fountains, meant to celebrate through water their munificence. This conversation will explore the use of water in the city of Rome, focusing on the technology of the ancient world in its connection with this flowing liquid.

Rome definitely deserves the epithet of Regina Aquarum, Queen of Waters. Since the Republican period, one of the main purposes of the magistrates was to bring water in the city and later in time one of the main concerns of Emperors and Popes. The engineering of aqueducts is one of the most fascinating topics of ancient technology and will be a focal point of this seminar. The first aqueduct was built in 312 BC and was completely underground; however, in order to bring water from far distances and to cross valleys, the conduits were later carried on bridgeworks, an incredible row of masonry built arches.

By the 3rd century AD of the Empire, we’ll learn that Rome had eleven aqueducts: thermal baths, public toilets, private use conducts, and especially fountains were supplied with 14.000 liters per second. A metropolis of one million of inhabitants certainly required a huge amount of water. The Romans were aware of the greatness of aqueducts, as Dionysus of Halicarnassus reports: "The extraordinary greatness of the Roman Empire manifests itself above all in three things: the aqueducts, the paved roads, and the construction of the drains".

We’ll explore how the aqueducts stopped working after the fall of the Western Empire and most of them were cut during the sieges of the city. During the Renaissance, the heritage of the Emperors passed to the Popes: building aqueducts was a perfect way to show their generosity to the population and fountains became a clear stage of their power. Therefore, ancient aqueducts were restored, new ones constructed and majestic baroque fountains were built, as for instance the Trevi Fountain or the extraordinary Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona. We’ll discuss this decision by the Popes to bring back water after many centuries of Roman absence.

Led by an expert on Greek-Roman Archaeology, Dimosthenis Kosmopoulos, this interactive seminar will focus on the use of water in the city of Rome. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with increased knowledge on the technology of ancient aqueducts and the use of water in Papal Rome.

During his university studies at “La Sapienza” in Rome, Dimosthenis participated in several national and international projects, such as the study of Latin epigraphy and Roman pottery as well as various archaeological excavations in different areas of Rome (Roman Forum, Palatine, Mausoleum of Augustus). His work as an archaeologist brought him to carry out research in classical art and architecture, exploring in particular the relationship between iconography and architecture as ancient Greek and Roman artistic expressions. Dimosthenis completed his Ph.D. with a thesis on temple architecture in the Italian peninsula during the Republican period. This topic became his area of expertise. His knowledge of archaeology, ancient art history and Roman architecture is the key that he uses to share his unique perspective on the Eternal City.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 16 reviews
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D.K.
Roman Engineering Still Amazes
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Customer Reviews

Based on 16 reviews
94%
(15)
6%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
D
D.K.
Roman Engineering Still Amazes
C
C.B.
Beyond excellent
A
A.
A
A.
Most interesting
S
S.