Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Water Supply to the Island

As we noted in our comments on the baths of the city, an issue to consider relates to the water supply to the Island. As we have seen there were a plethora of baths there. How did they get water? The three options are ground water, river water or a connection to the city's aqueduct system, which would have necessitated a branch of the aqueduct to run out a right angles from the main aqueduct and cross the branch of the Orontes. Aqueduct water would have provided pressure (for fountains etc.) whereas the other two means would not.

Gregoire Poccardi in his essay "L'eau domestiquee et l'eau sauvage" comments: "Le reseau d'approvisionnemente en eau de l'ile est beaucoup plus difficile a apprehender que celui de la Veille Ville. On pourrait imaginer une connexion avec le systeme d'aqueducts situe sur les flancs du Staurin, mais aucune trace de liaison n'a ete reperee. Cette connexion est techniquement possible en raison de la topographie, car ces aqueducts surplombait egalement l'ile."

D.N. Wilber in the second volume of the reports of the Princeton excavations notes: "There is no additional mention in the literary sources of other aqueducts except the ones from Daphne. However, just across the Orontes from the city and a short distance form the northern edge of the ancient island are some ruins which seem to be the debris of a number of aqueduct piers. In the excavations on the island five baths have already been uncovered and it is quite likely that the entire output of an aqueduct could have been used to in the baths and in the royal palace on the island. The location of these ruins indicate that such an aqueduct would have led from springs in the Amanus mountains, from a distance of at least ten kilometres and have been carried on a series of high level arches since the ground between Antioch and the foothills is so flat that a proper rate of descent in the channels could not have been obtained merely by following the ground contours".

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