, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 1-9
Date: 28 Mar 2012

Water, power and culture in the Roman and Byzantine worlds: an introduction

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Roman mastery of hydraulic engineering, and in particular of long-distance aqueduct supply systems, enabled the growth of a distinctive urban culture characterised by public bathing and lavish water display in both public and private settings. In the rural sphere, the extension of empire around the Mediterranean facilitated, among other things, the transfer of irrigation technologies between regions of different cultural and geological backgrounds. This led to an increasing flexibility of responses to irrigation problems, and to the development of complex schemes incorporating elements of several technologies; the growing complexity and scale of both urban water supply and rural irrigation systems required the development of legislation to regulate usage and protect the rights both of the state and of individual users of the systems. The provision, and the control, of water supply and irrigation systems, and of water-using amenities such as fountains, bath-houses and ornamental pools,