Water History

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 57–78

Water and the display of power in Augustan Rome: the so-called ‘Villa Claudia’ at Anguillara Sabazia


DOI: 10.1007/s12685-012-0055-x

Cite this article as:
Thomas, E. Water Hist (2012) 4: 57. doi:10.1007/s12685-012-0055-x


This article re-considers the architecture of the Roman villa site at Anguillara Sabazia (Lazio (RM), Italy). It is argued that the villa should be dated to the Augustan period, rather than the late Republic, and that its elaborate ornamental water features, including fountains arranged in an elliptical curve, were supplied by the Augustan aqueduct, the Aqua Alsietina, also known as the Aqua Augusta, either directly, or through a subsidiary branch off the main conduit. Its particular elliptical form, unique in Roman villa architecture at that time, may be explained as a small-scale version of the imperial pool (Stagnum) created in 2 bc for the Emperor Augustus’s recreation of sea-battles (Naumachia Augusti) in the modern district of Trastevere, which was the eventual destination of the aqueduct. There is no firm evidence for the owner of the villa, but a fragment of an honorific inscription from the site suggests a high-ranking ex-consul from the family of the Cornelii, possibly connected with the water administration (Cura Aquarum) in Rome.


VillasAqueductsFountainsAqua AlsietinaElliptical shapeSea-battlesNaumachiaOpus reticulatumOpus mixtumRoman architecture

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ancient Visual and Material CultureDurham UniversityDurhamUK