Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fountains and Water in Late Antiquity

Access to water remains a basic human need. The arid climate of the Mediterranean basin made access to water an even more pressing issue and cities throughout antiquity deployed impressive feats of engineering to provide their citizens with water. As water invovled massive investments in infrastructure, they also became opportunities for display and soon became important opportunities for partonage and highly visible elements of the Classical cities urban fabric.

Recent scholarship has come to appreciate the significance of water to life in the ancient city. Works like Brenda Longfellow's Roman Imperialism and Civic Patronage: form, meaning, and ideology in monumental fountain complexes (Cambridge 2011) and Betsy Robinson's History of Peirene (ASCSA 2011) have framed fountains as key manifestation of local, civic, and imperial ethos. The most recent volume of the Journal of Late Antiquity features a long article by Ine Jacobs and Julian Richard titled "'We Surpass the Beautiful Waters of Other Cities by the Abundance of Ours: Reconciling Function and Decoration in Late Antique Fountains" (JLA 5.1 (2012), 3-71) which draws on Ine Jacobs' very recent book and a forthcoming volume by Julian Richard looks at nymphaea in the Greek East.