Aqua, aqua, undique : aspects of Roman domestic water use
This thesis examines the nature of Roman domestic water usage, but unlike many previous studies in this field, does so from a social rather than technical viewpoint. Its aim is to provide a consolidated analysis both of the chief ways in which water was used in the urban domestic environment, and the implications this had on the nature of daily life for Romans of all social classes during the first century AD. Throughout this study, an attempt will be made to set aside modern preconceptions regarding the use of water and to focus instead on the Roman point of view, in order to better determine how they themselves regarded this commodity and the value that they placed on it. Indeed, it soon becomes clear that priorities for water usage in the ancient household varied greatly from those displayed by urban dwellers today. The body of this thesis examines in turn several different aspects of domestic water usage, from the most basic through to what might be considered the most superfluous. An investigation into the accessibility of drinking water marks the important distinction between the experience of the wealthy Roman and that of the poor Roman. The nature of urban life and domestic living arrangements for the latter group meant that even with the introduction of aqueduct water and subsequently, public fountains, access to this water remained problematic. This was true also in terms of both domestic and personal hygiene. Because the majority of urban dwellers did not have running water supplied to their insulae, and so were faced with the difficulties of fetching this themselves from the public fountains, sanitation was not considered a priority for water use within the apartment context. Similarly, it is discovered that even wealthy citizens who purchased their own private water connections, as a general rule, did not direct any of this water to domestic areas to assist with maintaining a state of cleanliness. In contrast, however, water was used in abundance within the peristyle garden for the purposes of display, and it is discovered from an analysis of surviving archaeological evidence that this was almost always the sole function of such a private water supply. This thesis concludes, then, that while water may have been an omnipresent commodity in many Imperial Roman towns and cities, the individual experiences of, and priorities for this element depended greatly on social class. For the poor, it was valued for little more than its most fundamental use as a sustainer of life. For the wealthy, it was enjoyed not for its utilitarian purposes, but rather for the ways in which it could facilitate luxury and the projection of wealth and status - factors which in their own eyes at least, were not necessarily considered superfluous.
Advisor: Hannah, Robert; Hall, Jon
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Classics
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
282 leaves :ill., maps ; 30 cm. Bibliography: l. 264-282. University of Otago department: Classics. "June 2007."