Wednesday 3 April 2013

Waterworks on the Acropolis

Plan and cross section of the Asklepieion fountain house.

The area of Athens was first inhabited at the end of the Neolithic period some time between 3500 and 3200 BCE. The few remains and finds of this period testify that the first settlements were on, or very close to, the Acropolis.

Water was the vital prerequisite for selecting the specific site on which to establish the settlement. It is estimated that in prehistoric times 21 wells were dug around the Acropolis, 3 to 4 metres deep, to access this rich water table. Later on, in the historic period, several luxury fountains were built to exploit these underground streams providing a safe water resource.

Oscar Broneer's A Mycenaean Fountain on the Athenian Acropolis (Hesperia, vol.8, no.4, 1939) is available here in .pdf format.

Kleophrades Painter 'Sack of Troy' hydria

Hydria: a water-jar with three handles, two for carrying and one for pouring. The application of the name to the shape is reasonably certain, although such vessels were not only used for the carrying of water. We know, for example, that hydriai held votes in ballots and ashes in cemeteries.