Universiteit Leiden

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Liquid footprints

The present study explores the role of water in the ancient Roman city of Ostia.In antiquity, Ostia was situated at the intersection of the Tiber River and the Mediterranean Sea, and acted as one of the harbour cities of Rome for several centuries.This study investigates how water was acquired, used, and drained away in Ostia, and how these systems changed over time.

Mark Locicero
07 November 2018
The publication in Open Access

Water, urbanism, and sustainability in Roman Ostia

To achieve a high level of resolution, three city blocks (insulae), were selected as case studies: III, i; IV, ii; and V, ii.to contextualize these hydraulic systems, the present study developed a new methodology, the Roman Water Footprint. The method was inspired by 21st century ways of understanding how and why water is used in modern cities. These modern insights have indicated that sustainable water usage is based not only on advanced hydraulic technology, but also includes environmental factors, and a strong cultural factor.

The results of the study indicate that Roman water usage was much more diverse and flexible than has been previously appreciated.By placing Roman water systems into dialogue with the methodologies of modern sustainable water research, this study forms an initial bridge between modern and ancient approaches to water and urbanism.

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