News (Ancient) High Tech Roman Water System Frozen In Time Near Pompeii




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  • Sacerdos Isidis

Scientists recently discovered an ancient Roman water system, or Hypocaust, that provided heated water and air to a luxury Roman villa in the German town of Kempten. Another team of archaeologists working in Italy have now announced the discovery of a Roman hydraulic system at Stabiae, an ancient city about 4.5 kilometers (2.79 miles) southwest of Pompeii.
Roman chronicler Pliny the Elder noted that several miles of enormous luxury coastal villas lined the headland at Stabiae. Heritage Daily points out that elite Roman figures such as Julius Caesar , the emperors Augustus and Tiberius, and the statesman-philosopher Cicero “all owned properties at Stabiae.” But along with Herculaneum and Pompeii, so too was Stabiae buried by the October 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius .

Considering the upper-class nature of Stabiae it is perhaps no surprise that archaeologists unearthed a luxury water distribution system. But what the researchers didn’t expect was to find the device unmoved since it was last used on that fateful day in 79 AD. When Vesuvius blew, she spewed superheated gases and tephra 33 kilometers (21 miles) into the sky before it rained molten rock, pumice and hot ash over the residences of Stabiae.

Along with 16,000 others, the aforementioned Pliny the Elder died in Stabiae while trying to rescue a friend and his family by ship during the eruption. And when one considers the upheaval caused by this volcanic event, and the seismic activity thereafter, it is perhaps clearer to see why it is so unusual that this water system is undisturbed, in situ, after all this time.

The team of researchers were excavating a small colonnaded garden (peristyle) at the Villa Arianna when they uncovered the water reservoir and a decorated lead tank. According to Pompeiisites, the Villa Arianna complex was built during the 2nd century BC and occupies approximately 2,500 square meters (26,9097.76 sq ft).

The villa was first excavated by Swiss engineer Karl Weber between 1757 and 1762, at which time most of the artifacts, furnishings and frescoes were transported to the Bourbon Museum at the Royal Palace of Portici.