Aqueduct Hunting in the Seventeenth Century

Raffaele Fabretti's De aquis et aquaeductibus veteris Romae
Harry B. Evans
An insightful assessment of the work of Raffaele Fabretti, the first researcher of Rome's aqueduct system


Aqueduct hunting has been a favorite pastime for visitors to Rome since antiquity, although serious study of how the Eternal City obtained its water did not begin until the seventeenth century. It was Raffaello Fabretti (1619-1700), the well-known Italian antiquarian and epigrapher, who began the first systematic research of the Roman aqueduct system.

Fabretti's treatise De aquis et aquaeductibus veteris Romae dissertationes tres is cited as a matter of course by all later scholars working in the area of Roman topography. Its findings, while updated and supplemented by more recent archaeological efforts, have never been fully superseded. Yet despite its enormous importance and impact on scholarly efforts, the De aquis has never been translated from the original Latin. Aqueduct Hunting in the Seventeenth Century provides a full translation of and commentary on Fabretti's treatise, making it accessible to a broad audience and carefully assessing its scholarly contributions.

In addition to the complete translation and commentary, focusing primarily on the topographical problems and Fabretti's contribution to our understanding of them, Harry B. Evans offers the reader an introduction to Fabretti and his scholarly world. Evans assesses the contributions and corrections of later archaeologists and topographers, and places the De aquis in the history of aqueduct studies.

Evans demonstrates that Fabretti's conclusions, while far from definitive, are indeed significant and merit wider attention than they have received to date. This book will appeal to classicists and classical archaeologists; ancient historians; and readers interested in the history of technology, archaeology, and Rome and Italy in the seventeenth century.

Harry B. Evans is Professor of Classics, Fordham University.

Praise / Awards

  • "In Evans, Fabretti has found a sympathetic and learned translator, and this edition is valuable both for revealing the state of knowledge of aqueducts in seventeenth-century Rome and for providing an introduction to the classical scholarship of a period very different from our own."
    —William Stenhouse, Yeshiva University, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, February 28, 2003
  • "There would appear to be a certain audacity in publishing material which has been almost totally overtaken by more than two centuries of scholarship. But Evans has done us a service in making accessible a notable work which few will have had the opportunity to see."
    International Journal of the Classical Tradition
  • "This book will be welcomed not only by aqueduct scholars, who will enjoy a new access to this treatise, but by all classicists with a lively interest in either the Roman Campagna that the aqueducts traverse, or the continuing saga of ancient Rome's recreation by generations of antiquarians and archaeologists. . . . Not the least of Evans's contributions with this book is the picture it allows to emerge of a gifted scholar from a bygone era. For this, as well as for the specific information it presents from a vanished and vanishing Rome, Evans's book will be a welcome addition to any collection of books on Roman topography."
    New England Classical Journal

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Copyright © 2002, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 316pp.
  • 33 drawings, 5 maps.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2002
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11248-7

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  • $99.95 U.S.