Water played an important part of ancient Roman life, from providing necessary drinking water, supplying bath complexes, to flowing in large-scale public fountains. The Roman culture of water was seen throughout the Roman Empire, although it was certainly not monolithic and it could come in a variety of scales and forms, based on climatic and social conditions of different areas. This article seeks to define ‘water culture’ in Roman society by examining literary, epigraphic, and archaeological evidence, while understanding modern trends in scholarship related to the study of Roman water. The culture of water can be demonstrated through expressions of power, aesthetics, and spectacle. Further there was a shared experience of water in the empire that could be expressed through religion, landscape, and water’s role in cultures of consumption and pleasure.
Dylan Kelby Rogers, Ph.D. (2015), University of Virginia, is currently the Assistant Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Currently, he explores the sensorial experiences of fountains in Roman Greece and throughout the Roman Empire, in addition to work in other related fields, such as Roman mosaics and archaeological archives.
Readers in Classical Studies, especially scholars of Roman culture and archaeology, will find this helpful to understand better the role of water in all aspects of Roman society. All those interested in the philology, epigraphy, history, and archaeology of the Romans will find various types of evidence used together to discern broader cultural implications of the study of the Romans throughout their Empire.