FOUNTAINS AND NYMPHAEA
Fountain constructions are inseparably connected to settlements and the needs or demands of men. They served to make accessible, safeguard and distribute the available water. Beyond the mere utilitarian building, fountain structures, especially nymphaea, could, in a propagandistic way, reflect political interests. Such monumental fountain structures were not infrequently connected with the names of influential individuals or rulers.
The size of the fountain for public water drawing was dependent on the number of people who would use it. In the Archaic and Classical periods, large fountain houses were situated in the central square of a city, while from the Hellenistic period, with the growing consolidation of aqueducts, the quantity of fountains in general increased, but their dimensions became smaller. Of course many fountain houses maintained their own water supply, which was also reflected in the installation of baths. Fountains were now also realized in communal building projects, such as theaters, odeia, gymnasia, stoas, stadia, or later in baths. In the private sphere, especially in the palaces and villas of the Roman period, fountain structures became constituents in the construction of gardens and courtyards. The importance of the fountain for supplying essential drinking water diminished and water with its various qualities formed a crucial part of garden design (see below, pp. 453–66).
The fact that water represented a basic necessity for life in a settlement was often accounted for in myth. For example, sometimes the city-hero would be considered to be the finder of a water source, and in Homer local heroes are named as the first builders of fountains. The Greeks designated all types of man-made structures where water could be drawn as kréne, in contrast to a natural spring (pegé).
In the following discussion only those fountains which in some way preserve an architectural form shall be discussed. As a result, the shaft-wells, which mainly supplied water for private use and at best were only furnished with a winch to draw the water, are eliminated (see Hodge, above, pp. 29–33). Aside from the fact that we
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Publication information: Book title: Handbook of Ancient Water Technology. Contributors: Örjan Wikander - Author. Publisher: Brill. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 413.
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