Water technologies of the Serino Aqueduct – Pompei and Herculaneum, Italy

The Serino aqueduct was constructed (33 to 12 B.C.) during the Augustus period of the Roman Empire and extended approximately 100 km from its origin (the Acquaro-Pelosi spring in the village of Serino)  to Miseno.  The aqueduct supplied water to Pompei, Herculaneum, and the Piscina Mirabilis.  The principle purpose of the aqueduct was to refurbish the Roman fleet of Misenum (Miseno).  The secondary  reason was to supply water for the increasing demand of the important harbor of Puteoli (Pozzuoli), as well as drinking water for a number of cities.

On August 24-25, 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted destroying Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other towns.  Prior to that the mountain had been green with olive groves and vineyards.


Pompeii (located near the Bay of Naples, south-southeast of Mt. Vesius) had a water supply that was representative of Roman  urban water distribution systems.  Sources of water included wells, cisterns, other reservoirs, and the Serino aqueduct.  This aqueduct received water from the springs at Serino near Avellino, and then was routed to Pompeii terminating at the castellum at Porta Vesuvii shown below.

Pompei, Italy Castellum

Pompei, Italy Castellum

Castellum divorsium at Porta Vesuvii used to divert flow to various geographical areas of Pompeii.  Note the three opennings in front of the building from which lead pipes were used to deliver water to Pompeii.

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Shows the exit from the aqueduct into the castellum divorsium.  Note the three channels (one in the center and one on each side) that were used to divert flow to geographical areas of Pompeii.   These channels were gated to adjust the amount of flow.

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Openning into aqueduct branch behind castellum

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Aqueduct branch leading into castellum

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On left side of street is a secondary castellum with adjacent fountain.  Lead tank was located on top of the column which was supplied with water from the lead pipes that were located in the indented area of the colmun.

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Lead pipes and manifold


Lead junction box

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Terracotta pipe for rainwater harvesting from roofs.  Pipes drained water into cisterns in individual buildings.


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View near modern day entrance


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Window with volcanic ash

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Lead pipes along sidewalk

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Lead pipe joint

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Lead pipe on sidewalk along street

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View of men’s waiting room at the Forum baths.  Basin at in the back on the left side is for washing feet and the round marble basin is for washing hands.

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Marble basin for washing hands

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Piscina Mirabilis

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1 Response to Water technologies of the Serino Aqueduct – Pompei and Herculaneum, Italy

  1. What exciting photographs! Very encouraging to see the kind of ancient water technologies, that were used by our ancestors. Since they developed functional hydraulic hydraulic structures with the knowledge that they had then, then we are encouraged that we can do much more with the current technologies. Can anyone explain to me how to identify such sites in Africa?

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