The so-called temples of Vesta (left) and Sibyl (right), important sanctuaries of ancient Tibur (present Tivoli), 30 km east of Rome. Two interconnected chambers of a storage basin / cistern on the La Fourvière hill in Lyon (France). It looks like there were no tresholds between both chambers so settling took place in both chambers in equal amount. Frontinus 16:
"With these grand structures, so numerous and indispensable, carrying so many waters, who indeed would compare the idle Pyramids or other useless, although renowned, works of the Greeks?
Home Aqua Clopedia FAQ on aqueducts


The most elaborate ancient literary sources are the works of Vitruvius and Frontinus, see also this website under Literature.

Porta Capena
Where the Capene gate drips with heavy drops,
And where Almo washes the Phrygian Mother's knife,
.... There might you see ....
″ (Martial: Epigrams 3.47.1)
in the Servian Wall at the start of the Via Appia.
Porta Capena II
Old arches and the wet [porta] Capena: since there was an aqueduct above the gatew, which they call the dripping arch. Indeed there first were gates in the same place.
(Juvenal: Sat 3.11)
Aqua Marcia and Tibur
O Marcia, that glidest athwart the river's depth and in bold lead dost cross its channel?
.... In that shade Tiburnus reclines, ....

(Statius: Silvae I.3.67-75)
Pliny on earth ware and lead pipes
For the rest, the best way for water to be brought from a spring is in earth ware pipes two fingers (2 x one inch) thick, the joints boxed together so that the upper pipe fits into the lower, and smoothed with quicklime and oil. The gradient of the water should be at least a quarter of an inch every hundred feet; should it come to a tunnel, there must be vent holes every two actus (2 x 120 feet).
When water is required to form a jet, it should come from lead pipes. Water rises as high as its source. If it comes from a long distance, the pipe should frequently go up and down, so that no momentum may be lost.
The usual length for a piece of pining is ten feet; five-finger lengths should weight 60 pounds, eight-finger length 100 pounds, ten-finger length 120 pounds, and so on in proportion. An-finger pipe is so called when the breath of the strip before bending is ten fingers, and one half as large as a five-finger pipe. At every bend of a hill where the momentum must be controlled, it is necessary to use a five-finger pipe;
Reservoirs must be made as circumstances require
(Pliny the Elder: natural History 31.57 - 59)
Pliny on the aqueducts of Rome
"But we must go on to describe marvels which are un-surpassed in virtue of their genuine value. Quintus Marcius Rex, having been ordered by the senate to repair the conduits of the Aqua Appia, the Anio, and the Tepula, drove underground passages through the mountains and brought to Rome a new water-supply called by his own name and completed within the period of his praetorship.

Agrippa, moreover, as aedile added to these the Aqua Virgo repaired the channels of the others and put them in order, and constructed 700 basins, not to speak of 500 fountains and 130 distribution-reservoirs, many of the latter being richly decorated.
He erected on these works 300 bronze or marble statues and 400 marble pillars; and all of this he carried out in a year. He himself in the memoirs of his aedileship adds that in celebration games lasting for 59 days were held, and the bathing establishments were thrown open to the public free of charge, all 170 of them, a number which at Rome has now been infinitely increased. But all previous aqueducts have been surpassed by the most recent and very costly work inaugurated by the Emperor Gaius and completed by Claudius, inasmuch as the Curtian and Caerulean Springs, as well as the Anio Novus, were made to flow into Rome from the 40th milestone at such a high level as to supply water to all the seven hills of the city, the sum spent on the work amounting to 350,000,000 sesterces.

If we take into careful consideration the abundant supplies of water in public buildings, baths, pools, open channels, private houses, gardens and country estates near the city; if we consider the distances traversed by the water before it arrives, the raising of arches, the tunnelling of mountains and the building of level routes across deep valleys, we shall readily admit that there has never been anything more remarkable in the whole world.
(Pliny the Elder: Natural History 36.121 - 123)
Pliny about building cisterns
"Cisterns should be made of five parts of clean, coarse sand to two of the hottest possible quicklime, together with pieces of silex each weighing not more than a pound. The floor and walls built of this material should all alike be beaten with iron bars.
It is better to build cisterns in pairs so that impurities may settle in the first, and water pass through a filter purified into the adjoining one.
(Pliny the Elder: Natural History 36.173)
The idle pyramids
"With these grand structures, so numerous and indispensable, carrying so many waters, who indeed would compare the idle Pyramids or other useless, although renowned, works of the Greeks?"
(Frontinus: De Aquaeductu Urbis Romae 16)
Pliny (the Younger) to the emperor Trajan:
37. The people of Nicomedia, Sir, have expended 3,318,000 sesterces, in building an aqueduct; which they abandoned unfinished and destroyed. They made a second attempt where they expended 200,000. But this, likewise, they abandoned; so that, after having been at an immense charge to no purpose, they must still be at a farther expense, in order to be accommodated with water. I have examined a fine spring, from whence the water may be conveyed over arches (as was attempted in their first design) in such a manner that the higher, as well as level and low parts of the city may be supplied. There are but very few of the old arches remaining; the square stones, however, employed in the former, may be used in turning the new arches. I am of opinion part should be raised with brick, as that will be the easier and cheaper material. But that this work may not meet with the same ill success as the former, it will be necessary to send hither an architect, or some person skilled in the construction of this kind of water works. And I will venture to say, from the beauty and usefulness of the design, it will be an erection well worthy the splendor of your times.

Trajan to Pliny:
38. Care must be taken to supply the city of Nicomedia with water; and that business, I am well persuaded, you will perform with all the diligence you ought. But it is most certainly no less incumbent upon you to examine, by whose misconduct it has happened, that such large sums have been thrown away upon this attempt; lest they apply the money to private purposes, and the aqueduct in question, like the preceding, should be begun and afterwards left unfinished. You will let me know the result of your inquiry.
(Pliny the Younger: Letters 10.37 and 38)
Pliny (the Younger) to the emperor Trajan:
90. The city of Sinope is ill supplied, Sir, with water, which, however, may be brought there from about sixteen miles distance, in great plenty and perfection. The ground, indeed, near the source of the spring, is, for somewhat more than a mile, of a very suspicious and loose nature; but I have directed an examination to be made (which will be effected at a small expense) whether it is sufficiently firm to support any superstructure. I have taken care to provide a suitable fund for this purpose, if you should approve, Sir, of a work so conducive to the health and pleasure of this colony, greatly distressed by scarcity of water.

Trajan to Pliny:
91. I would have you proceed, my dear Pliny, in carefully examining, whether the ground you suspect, is firm enough to support an aqueduct. For, I have no manner of doubt that it is proper the city of Sinope should be supplied with water; provided their finances will bear the expense of a work so conducive to their health and pleasure.
(Pliny the Younger: Letters 10.90 and 91)