Study of the diachronic aqueducts of the city of Aigeira

Due to geomorphological reasons Aigeira has several long-distance aqueducts that were used from the Archaic period into late antiquity. Depending on the terrain, the water was directed through open conduits or through rock caverns. Depending on changes in water demand, this diachronic supply system was closely tied to the development phases of the city.

From 1996 to 1999 extensive fieldwork on the external water supply of Aigeira was carried out. Numerous contexts for the diachronic aqueducts were identified; the aqueduct brought water from the valley to the urban area in the south from the Archaic to the late antique period. Because the settlement area was largely located on enormous sand and marl formations limiting the internal supply through local sources and wells, the water supply of the city had to be supplemented through conduits from the outside.

Prehellenistic aqueduct

Selective contexts in the form of diagnostic pipelines demonstrate that already in the pre-Hellenistic period water was brought into the Archaic-Classical city from the south.

Early Hellenistic aqueduct 

An early Hellenistic aqueduct carried the water from a natural spring around 1 km to the south through a conduit made of brick into the city. This watercourse was partially constructed as a gravity-fed channel in the landscape. Due to the terrain, over long distances the conduit of brick was built into caverns cut into the natural rock that were accessible at regular intervals through rectangular access caverns; these served construction purposes within the caverns as well as maintenance purposes. With a width of ca. 0.60 m and a height of ca. 1.70 m the conduit cavern was easily accessible.

The design of the brick conduits and the mention of the watercourse in connection with the attack of Aitolians on Aigeira in 219 BCE, described by Polybius, suggests that this water conduit was developed in the 3rd century BCE alongside the Hellenistic city of Aigeira. A system of internal pipelines existed in the Hellenistic public center and was fed by this pipeline thus distributing water within the city.

Imperial and late Roman aqueduct

Selective contexts of canals made of brick suggest that the pipeline continued to be used in the Roman period; profound changes are attested in the late Roman period. A brickwork aqueduct was constructed as a result of massive erosion processes in parts of the watercourse but the undamaged cavern system continued to be used. The renovations were associated among other things with the water demands of the late Roman clay processing workshops in the area of the theater.

The contexts identified to date make a concise synthetic presentation and evaluation of the water supply system possible and are currently being prepared for publication.