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Roman Cisterns - Amelia

Roman Cisterns - Amelia

The Roman cistern of Amelia is located under the present-day Piazza Matteotti, which corresponds to the forum, the public square of the Roman period, at the northern end of the town between the hill of St Stephen and that of the Cathedral.

The imposing hydraulic construction was built between the beginning and the first half of the first century B.C., when Amelia was elevated to a municipality and provided with public infrastructures such as the theatre, baths and roads: the cistern was conceived to meet the city’s water needs.

It still shows an exceptional state of preservation: in fact, all the fundamental components for the functioning of the entire complex are present in situ, such as the water adduction system, the internal device for regulating the maximum water level, and the system for emptying the cistern.

It consists of a large rectangular room carved into the limestone, with internal dimensions of 57.50 x 19.60 metres and an average height of 5.70 metres, which serves as a substructure for the Roman forum square.

The interior is divided into ten parallel compartments with barrel vaults. In the centre of the roof of each compartment is a cylindrical well that had the dual function of a water trough and ventilation system.

The walls, both perimeter and dividing walls, are covered in opusincertumwith a core of opus caementicium, while the vaults are covered in conglomerate.

Particularly interesting are Rooms 1 and 10, with perimeter walls covered in “cocciopesto”, a special plaster used in the Roman period to make water structures waterproof. In Room 10, the fistulae acquariae, lead pipes that supplied the Amerian water supply, were found.

After its construction, the water system underwent renovation between the end of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd century AD. Room 1 was equipped with a lining platform made of square bricks called “bipedal”, meaning two Roman feet in size - about 60x60 cm - on which the name Caius Atilius Fortunatus, owner of the brick factory, can be read, allowing precise dating of when the cistern was restored.

For more information, visit the website of the Roman Cistern of Amelia.

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