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Archaeologies of Water in the Roman Near East


63 BC – AD 636


Water is one of the most benign, and destructive, powers in the lives of all people, in particular in arid areas such as the Near East. This book provides an alternative way of thinking about the Roman Near East by exploring how its inhabitants managed and lived with their water supplies, especially in the wake of the Roman conquest. Through geographical, hydrological, and anthropological perspectives, this study aims to see how water can inform us about the nature of Roman Imperialism, the Roman economy, change and transformation in Late Antiquity.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-61143-421-7
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jun 17,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 246
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-61143-421-7
$99.00
$59.40

Water is one of the most benign, and destructive, powers in the lives of all people, in particular in semi-arid and arid areas such as the Near East. This book provides an alternative way of thinking about the Roman Near East by exploring how its inhabitants managed and lived with their water supplies, especially in the wake of the Roman conquest. It looks at water in all areas of human life from irrigation systems for farming to aqueducts providing water for bathhouses in cities to how water was used in the home.

The book is structured around a series of themes that will be of interest not only to those interested in the Roman world, but also to those who think about water from geographical, hydrological and anthropological perspectives. These themes include Roman Imperialism, Roman economy, change and transformation in Late Antiquity, and the role of religion. The overarching theme is understanding attitudes towards water and water use, exploring in particular what constrained or enabled the changing behaviours of those living in the Roman Near East.

Water is one of the most benign, and destructive, powers in the lives of all people, in particular in semi-arid and arid areas such as the Near East. This book provides an alternative way of thinking about the Roman Near East by exploring how its inhabitants managed and lived with their water supplies, especially in the wake of the Roman conquest. It looks at water in all areas of human life from irrigation systems for farming to aqueducts providing water for bathhouses in cities to how water was used in the home.

The book is structured around a series of themes that will be of interest not only to those interested in the Roman world, but also to those who think about water from geographical, hydrological and anthropological perspectives. These themes include Roman Imperialism, Roman economy, change and transformation in Late Antiquity, and the role of religion. The overarching theme is understanding attitudes towards water and water use, exploring in particular what constrained or enabled the changing behaviours of those living in the Roman Near East.

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Contributor Biography

Zena Kamash

Zena Kamash is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University. She holds a BA Hons in Classics from Oxford University and a D Phil. in Roman archaeology from Magdalen College, Oxford University. She is an expert in Roman water management in the Near East and also has research interests in Roman material culture and religion.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • List of Illustrations (page 7)
  • List of Tables (page 9)
  • Preface (page 11)
  • Acknowledgments (page 13)
  • Abbreviations (page 15)
  • Introduction (page 17)
  • 1. The Introduction and Uses of New Water Technologies (page 33)
    • Water-Lifting Devices (page 34)
    • Dams (page 39)
    • Irrigation (page 46)
      • River-fed Irrigation (page 47)
      • Aquifer-fed Irrigation (page 49)
      • Floodwater Farming (page 53)
      • Well and Cistern-fed Garden Cultivation (page 58)
      • Spring-fed Irrigation (page 59)
      • Teleilat Al-Anab (page 60)
    • Aqueducts (page 62)
    • Urban Water Supply (page 66)
    • Water Supply in Domestic Contexts (page 72)
    • Watermills (page 76)
    • Influencing Technological Change and Continuity in the Near East (page 80)
  • 2. Water and the Economy (page 91)
    • Uses of Water in Industry and Production (page 91)
      • Watermills (page 91)
      • Tanning, Dyeing and Fulling (page 94)
      • Fishponds (vivaria) (page 96)
    • Water and the Economy: Wider Debates (page 99)
      • The Rural - Urban Divide (page 100)
      • The Rural Economy in the Late Roman Period (page 107)
      • Urban Productivity and Industry in the Late Roman Period (page 110)
      • Conclusions (page 112)
  • 3. Attitudes Towards Water as a Resource in the Roman Near East (page 115)
    • Technology and Water Conservation (page 116)
      • Dams (page 116)
      • Urban Water Storage (page 117)
    • Social Attitudes Towards Water Conservation (page 128)
      • Nymphaea (page 128)
      • Bathhouses (page 133)
      • The Use of Water in Domestic Contexts: Status and Display (page 136)
    • Conclusions (page 142)
  • 4. Water, Hygiene, Cleanliness and Purity (page 145)
    • Jewish Ritual Baths (page 151)
    • Latrines (page 154)
    • Bathhouses (page 163)
    • Conclusions (page 170)
  • 5. Water and Pagan Religion in the Roman and Late Roman Near East (page 173)
    • The Cosmological Associations of Water (page 174)
      • Gods with a Watery Element to their Character (page 174)
      • Cosmological Associations of Watery Locations: Sacred Springs, Rivers, Lakes, Pools and Wells (page 175)
      • Watery Themes in Religious Iconography (page 183)
    • Uses of Water in Rituals (page 186)
      • Cult of Atargatis (page 186)
      • Maioumas and Other Festivals (page 189)
      • Votive Deposition, Oracles and Divination (page 190)
      • Water, Healing and Purification (page 191)
      • Conclusions (page 191)
  • Conclusions (page 193)
  • Bibliography (page 203)
    • Ancient Authors (page 203)
    • Modern Authors (page 205)
  • Index (page 243)
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