Ostia Antica (Italy)


For the photo's, see below
Between the end of the 4th and the 1st century BC drinking water was provided by atmospheric precipitation and from the ground water, which was drawn on by means of wells.
In the Julio-Claudian period, the city was supplied with an aqueduct that arrived at a vast water reservoir located under the palaestra of the Bath of Neptune (1) and fed the earliest public bath complexes of the city (under Via dei Vigili). But an important intervention is due to Vespian (an inscription recently found) with a new aqueduct that deposited its water in a large cistern (2) leaning against the `Sullan' wall, just outside the city, making possible the election of new and more important bath buildings.

From there, the water was distributed to various buildings through a system of cisterns and lead pipes. On the Decumanus, a few meters from the intersection with the Via dei Vigili, are preserved, under the street level, traces of a large lead pipe-line (fistula), that bears the stamp colonorum coloniae ostiense (an error for ostiensis). The aqueduct succeeded in satisfying the needs of the inhabitants of Ostia supplying fountains, nymphaea, fullonivae (cleaners), tanneries, bath complexes, public buildings .., that used, when required and in addition, also the ground water, that was raised to the necessary level by means of hydraulic wheels. The aqueduct remained in use for the entire 4th century AD and was still functioning in the 5th c.; it declined in the following century through lack of attention and maintenance work.

At this moment, wells were constructed that occupied roads at one time heavily frequented, partially obstructing them (on the Decumanus there are two: one in front of the Bath of Neptune, another on the Semita dei cippi), therefore, attesting with their presence to the reduced volume of urban traffic.

Soprintendenza Archeologica di Ostia
For the pictures, see below.

Ostia Antica - OSTIA

Item Info
Length 14 km
Cross-section x m
Volume 22.500 m3/day
Fall 0,04 %
Period 1 c AD
  • reservoir (750 m3)
  • putei

Recommended literature :
  • R. Meiggs (1973): Roman Ostia
  • Bukowiecki (2008): Ostie. L'eau dans la ville
Recommended website : Ostia antica
How to visit : Take the COTRAL train from Ostiense station to Lido di Ostia. At station Ostia Antica, follow the signs. Just behind the Porta Romana gate turn to the left. After 100 m you will find the ruins of the reservoir which is the end of the Ostia aqueduct.

HOME More literature on more aqueducts Last modified: January, 2014 - Wilke D. Schram
(W.D.Schram 'at' romanaquects.info)

Between Malafede and Ostia

Near the source

Ancient map of Volpaia

Close to Ostia

Mediaeval Burgo



Vaulted reservoir

Principle phases

Model of the reservoir




Fountain I

Fountain II

Fountain III