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The Roman aqueduct is one of the best known engineering constructions of the ancient Romans.  They are ostensibly gravity flow channels constructed to bring the water of origin (lake, river, springs) located at a higher elevation into the city at a lower elevation, for public fountains, baths, latrines, private households, farming, gardening, and businesses (e.g., milling, fullonica). The conduit was principally underground but would appear, visible in the form of bridges over valleys, as well as arcades in lowland areas, to maintain the slight gradient, into the city.  

The key source for our knowledge of aqueducts and their management is de aquis urbis Romae by Frontinus, who was in charge of Rome’s aqueducts in the reign of Nerva.  


Aqueducts of Rome


  • Aqua Appia
    • 312 BC (Samnite wars)
    • source: springs
  • Aqua Anio Vetus (Pyrrhus of Epirus)
    • 272-269 BC
    • source: Anio River
  • Aqua Marcia
    • 144-140 (Third Punic War)
    • Source; springs
  • Aqua Tepula
    • 125 BC
    • Source: springs
  • Aqua Iulia (Agrippa)
    • 33 BC
    • Source: springs
  • Aqua Virgo (Agrippa)
    • 19 BC
    • Source springs
  • Aqua Alsietina (Augustus)
    • 2 BC
    • Source: Lake Alsietina
  • Aqua Claudia (Claudius)
    • AD 52
    • Source: springs
  • Aqua Anio Novus (Claudius)
    • AD 52
    • Source: Anio River
  • Aqua Traiana (Trajan)
    • AD 109
    • source: Lake Bracciano
  • Aqua Alexandrina (Alexander Severus)
    • AD 226
    • source: springs

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Cite this page as: Darius Arya, The American Institute for Roman Culture, “Aqueducts (History)” Ancient Rome Live. Last modified 10/02/2020.


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