Aqua Tepula

Roman aqueducts: Rome Aqua Tepula (Italy) Rome - ROMA Aqua Tepula
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We know little of the original Tepula, as it was completely reworked and the original path abandoned by Agrippa. According to Frontinus, it was built in 126 BC by the censors G. Servilius Caepio and L. Cassius Longinus and took its water from the estate of Lucullus (2.8). Though modern scholars believe that the Tepula drew its waters from the foot of the northern slope of the Alban Hills, its source was a number of streams in the Marciana valley, about two kilometres west of Grottaferrata. Ashby (1935:159) believes it to be the Sorgente Preziosa. The water temperature here is indeed still quite warm. Frontinus has this to say (2.68):
Tepula is credited in the records with 400 quinariae. This aqueduct has no springs; it consists only of some veins of water taken from Julia.
This is rather an odd statement by Frontinus, as the Tepula is older than the Julia. It is true that they used the same channel, and as Frontinus says (1.9):
The Name Julia was given to the new aqueduct by its builder, but since the waters were again divided for distribution, the name Tepula remained.
It can be argued that mixed water cannot be divided into its original components, so perhaps the birth of the Julia meant the transformation of the Tepula into a branch of the Julia.
Tepid water
Nothing remains of the Tepula's collection system, but the same warm water (16 degrees C) that gave the Tepula its name feeds the fountain named Sorgente Preziosa today. It was introduced in order to service the Capitoline Hill, and would have been a high-level line, similar to that of the Marcia. In fact it entered Rome atop the Marcia and was the highest of the 'contemporary' aqueducts, thus allowing it to have the potential to service regions of higher elevation. As indicated by its name the aqueduct delivered 'tepid' water and therefore was not as valued as other aqueducts, especially the Aqua Marcia. Its temperature made the Tepula unpalatable and therefore its flow was used for industrial purposes. This is no bad thing, because a result of the addition of the Tepula the waters of the Marcia were freed for drinking purposes. The Tepula, passing through 14 'castella', delivered water to four regions, Templum Pacis, Esquiliae, Alta Semita, and Via Lata. Three-fourths of its waters furnished private citizens and 15% was assigned to usibus publicis. These statistics coupled with the regions that the Tepula served adds weight to the statement that the role of the aqueduct was to complement the other lines, such as the Marcia, that provided water to the eastern districts of the city. According to Evans (2000:96), the Tepula's limited length and capacity were perhaps dictated by economic considerations during the politically unstable decade of the 120s BC
Need for extra water
Aqua Tepula on top of the Marcia
It is interesting to note that the Tepula served the same region as the Marcia, and this less than twenty years after the former's construction. This may point to rapid growth in the city, especially after the wars of the 130s )1, or the land problems that spurred the Gracchi to action. There was probably a serious requirement for the extra water, considering that lower quality water was accepted and that no opposition to the Tepula's construction on the Capitoline is recorded, in contrast to the Marcia. The Tepula's small size may have been an economic necessity; the 140s saw full coffers and extravagant spending, but the minor wars, land problems and grain problems (caused by the Sicilian Slave wars, the revolt led by the slave Eunus) meant that spending in the 130s and early 120s was restricted (Boren, 1958:900).
Relation to the Aqua Julia
The Tepula originally ran its own course from source to terminus. In 33 BC, in an attempt to improve both the water quality and its volume, Agrippa combined water from his new aqueduct, the Aqua Julia, to the existing Tepula. The two waters of the Tepula and Julia ran together to their piscina and then divided back into two channels at a clearing basin somewhere near today's Capannelle, subsequently travelling to their respective terminus. Due to the cost of its forerunner, the Marcia, and the poor nature of the water, however, the Tepula did not fulfil this expectation. In fact it was Rome's smallest line, spanning a mere eighteen kilometres, and delivered only 17,800 m3 per day )2.
The Aqua Tepula proved to be the most problematic of all the Republican aqueducts. The constructs of the original Tepula are unknown; because all of Frontinus' discussions refer to the line after Marcus Agrippa made extensive restorations )3. Because there is no trace of the original channel, it is inferred (reasonably) that the initial channel was abandoned and a new one instituted. Frontinus indicates that the aqueduct possessed no source of its own, but drew its waters from springs that later supplied the Aqua Julia. This confirms the belief that the line had a restricted capacity.

)1 This included wars against the Numantines in Spain, against the Scordisci in Macedonia and against a slave revolt in Sicily. None of these conflicts could have produced much booty and probably represented a net loss.

)2 Alone of all the aqueducts listed by Frontinus, the Tepula lost none of its waters between its source and terminus.

)3 According to Evans (2000:97), the Tepula ceased to have it's own identity after Agrippa. This argument has much to recommend it.

From E.J. Dembskey: The aqueducts of Ancient Rome" (master thesis 2009)

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Marcia and Felice

View into the channel

Added entry

at Porta Maggiore

Porta Maggiore town side

Comparative heights

Acqua Felice

Via Prenestina

Ad Spem Veterem

Maggiore and Tiburtina

near Porta Tiburtina

near Porta Tiburtina

Tiburtina in
mediaeval times

Porta Tiburtina side view

Three inscriptions

Cylindrical castellum

Distribution basin

Lanciani's drawing