Technology of Grandeur: Early Modern Aqueducts in Portugal

  • Anatole TchikineEmail author
Part of the Trends in the History of Science book series (TRENDSHISTORYSCIENCE)


Aqueduct construction remains an important yet understudied chapter in the history of early modern European technology and urbanism. Combining the symbolism of form with the utility of function, aqueducts spoke the revived language of classical architecture, serving as monumental statements of princely beneficence, civic pride, and local identity. Mobilizing community resources in an act of political will, such projects marked the consolidating power of central authorities that spearheaded urban renewal through the creation and display of the improved water supply. The case of early modern Portugal is crucial for broadening the scope of this discussion, which is usually focused on sixteenth century Italy, situating it within a larger geographical and chronological context. While revealing the deep rootedness of Portuguese aqueducts in the local traditions of construction and water management, their analysis sheds new light on the central question of continuity and rupture in the transfer of hydraulic technology and knowledge from antiquity through the Middle Ages.



I would like to thank Ana Rodrigues for inviting me to contribute a chapter to this volume and for providing me, with the help of Magdalena Merlos Romero, with source materials in the course of its preparation. My additional thanks go to John Pinto for sharing with me his knowledge of the Vitruvian chorobates and to Jan Ziolkowski for his help translating the Latin motto on the medal of Cosimo I.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dumbarton Oaks (Trustees for Harvard University)WashingtonUSA

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