|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Thursday, December 8, 2016
|Hi-tech aqueduct explorers using GPS technology and remote control robots, map ancient Rome's 'final frontier' |
A "speleo-archaeologists" makes his way through a perfectly preserved tunnel section of the Acqua Claudia on the grounds of a Franciscan convent in Vicovaro 60 km out of Rome on September 28, 2013. A group of speleologists is completing the first ever mapping of the 11 aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome that still run for hundreds of kilometres underground and along stunning viaducts. Helped with modern technologies they map the network compiled at the beginning of the 20th century by British Roman archaeologist Timothy Ashby between 1906 and 1925. AFP PHOTO/Filippo MONTEFORTE.
By: Dario Thuburn
VICOVARO.- Armed with laser rangefinders, GPS technology and remote control robots, a group of speleologists is completing the first ever mapping of the aqueducts of ancient Rome on archaeology's "final frontier".
They abseil down access wells and clamber through crevices to access the 11 aqueducts that supplied Rome, which still run for hundreds of kilometres (miles) underground and along stunning viaducts.
The mission of these "speleo-archaeologists" is to update the last above-ground map of the network compiled at the beginning of the 20th century by British Roman archaeologist Thomas Ashby.
As he made his way through a perfectly preserved tunnel section of the Acqua Claudia on the grounds of a Franciscan convent in Vicovaro near Rome, Alfonso Diaz Boj said he was "proud" of the study.
"It combines what was the birth of archaeology as a science with the latest instruments available," said Diaz Boj, a member of Sotterranei di Roma (Underground Rome), in a hard hat and torch.
The pick marks of the Roman diggers can still be seen in the limestone of the tunnel completed in 38 AD under the Emperor Claudius and a lawyer of calcification about half a metre off the ground shows where the water level would have been.
"These aqueducts may not be as beautiful as a statue or like some architecture but I think they are important, they are very beautiful," he said.
The ancient waterways were true feats of engineering, which relied solely on gravity to ensure a flow of water can be seen across what was once the Roman Empire from Germany to North Africa.
Their strategic significance is underlined by the fact that Rome had a special magistrate to oversee their maintenance and that the Visigoths cut them off when they were laying siege to the city.
The Acqua Claudia runs 87 kilometres (54 miles) from the Simbruini Mountains to the heart of Rome and supplied 2,200 litres of water a second.
Only one of the aqueducts is still operational today -- the Acqua Vergine -- which can be accessed in various hidden locations near Rome including a doorway near the Villa Medici that leads down a spiral staircase to the water.
The Acqua Vergine runs for a total of 20 kilometres and ends up in the Trevi Fountain, photographed every day by crowds of tourists.
"Underground Rome is a final frontier," said Riccardo Paolucci, another explorer, as he examined a viaduct in a valley near Vicovaro that carried the water further towards the city.
"Water was a fundamental service for hygiene. In a city like Rome, which had a million inhabitants, there were very few epidemics," he said.
"There was a concept of service for the people, for the city. It is a key concept that is maybe lacking not just in modern Rome but globally."
Diaz, Paolucci and the others from Sotterranei di Roma work together with Rome's archaeological authority, helping them understand what can be seen above the ground from what is underneath and inaccessible without specialist equipment.
"We are who we are because of what we have inside and Rome is what it is because of what is underneath it," said Paolucci, a specialist potholer who is also called to emergency incidents or whenever a sinkhole opens up in the city.
The group also organises guided tours and courses, including one on the aqueducts starting next month, and are earning an international reputation. They were commissioned to map the underground remains of ancient Ephesus in Turkey.
Their study of the aqueducts is based on the map made by Ashby, director of the archaeological British School at Rome between 1906 and 1925.
Ashby's signature can be seen scrawled on the wall of a section of the Acqua Marcia aqueduct, which also transits through Vicovaro, alongside graffiti and poems dating back to the 17th century from visitors who stumbled on the ancient waterway.
"Ashby's maps were ahead of their time," Diaz said.
"He want to the villages, to the local trattorias, he spoke to farmers, to hunters. He found what he found thanks to local knowledge," he said.
"It is a technique that we still use today."
© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse
October 30, 2013
Centre Pompidou takes a new look at a major avant-garde movement of the 20th century
Dutch museum artworks may be Nazi loot, probe by Netherlands Museum Association reveals
Pristine Roman sculpture discovered by archaeologists goes on display at the Museum of London
A rare painting by Johannes Vermeer is placed on view at Philadelphia Museum of Art
Prestel book accompanies major David Hockney exhibition on view in San Francisco
National Museums of Kenya: Ancient past challenges modern teaching in 'cradle of mankind'
Visions of Paris: Royal Academy of Arts in London opens Honoré Daumier exhibition
The Courts of Europe: From the Renaissance to the Rococo at Sotheby's New York
Exhibition at Museo Fondazione Roma presents riches from a Neapolitan treasure trove
Dallas Museum of Art promotes Kevin W. Tucker to Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design
Doyle New York to auction European, American, Modern & Contemporary art on November 5
Hi-tech aqueduct explorers using GPS technology and remote control robots, map ancient Rome's 'final frontier'
Sotheby's London to offer Sir William Orpen's Portrait of Lady Idina Wallace
New leadership team to reshape Powerhouse Museum announced
Jewel casket from Medici Grand Ducal Ateliers in Florence brings $617,000 at fall Bonhams auction
Städelschule Frankfurt announces Philippe Pirotte as new Director
Worcester Art Museum appoints new Director of Curatorial Affairs
Signs on the Road: CAC Malaga celebrates its tenth anniversary with exhibition
Sioux boy's beaded hide shirt from the Pasvolsky Collection highlights American Indian Art Sale
Pair of Paul Storr entree dishes expected to bring $20,000+ to highlight Silver & Vertu at Heritage Auctions
Stair Galleries sets world record for Fabergé hardstone figure, selling for $5,980,000
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Dutch National Museum of Ethnology says ancient Mixtec skull a forgery
2.- Sotheby's Russian Art Sales soar over estimate to £13.8m / $17.2m
3.- Pirelli's new 'feminist' calendar sexes up the wrinkles
4.- Black Death burial pit found by archaeologists at English 14th-century abbey
5.- It's a squeeze, but Paris Impressionist museum is still a hit after 30 years
6.- Versailles presents the infinite variety and ingenuity of entertainment in the court
7.- Van Gogh Museum rules out debate over 'lost' notebook
8.- Wife of Putin aide shocks with Holocaust-themed skating routine
9.- A visitor's guide to Art Basel Miami Beach and beyond
10.- President-elect Donald Trump, politics on the mind at Art Basel Miami Beach
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.