Handbook of Ancient Water Technology

By Örjan Wikander | Go to book overview

VII.3
THE GREEK WORLD

The Greek world never constituted a unity, but the political and geographical fragmentation notwithstanding, there are certain common features in the approach to water use among the Greeks. These common traits have been attributed to similar physical conditions (a relative scarcity of water; the necessity to deal with sudden torrential rainfalls), and a long tradition.1 “Greek water right” did not however consist in an elaborated legal structure (as in the Roman world, due to the flourishing of Roman legal thought), but merely in a collection of legal material.2

No unified body of written juristic sources on water, not even on a local scale, has been preserved.3 However, some important passages in Plato's Laws, referring to “excellent old laws laid down for farmers” can be taken as a starting point. Without quoting verbatim the nomoi georgikoi, Plato lays down some principles that characterized these laws,4 setting out from the common Greek practice of

1 Thus Koerner 1974, 189; earlier e.g. Kohler and Ziebarth 1912, 88f. On pre-
cipitation patterns in Attica and elsewhere in Greece, see Argoud 1987b, 25–8. On
the hydrogeological basis of Greek civilization see Crouch 1993, 63–82 and passim.

2 Koerner 1974, 156: “die Griechen kein durchgearbeitetes System entwickelt
haben, sondern nur eine Sammlung des Rechtsguts kannten”. On the origin of law-
giving and laws in the Greek world in general, see recently Gschnitzer 1995, who
favours a modern interpretation according to which the various legislative enter-
prises (Dracon, Solon, etc.) meant that new statutes were enacted, not that old tra-
ditional law was written down. Only later came a stage when traditional law was
collected. On the religious sphere as the origin of Greek laws see Panessa 1983
and below.

3 In the enormously rich legal material from Gortyn on Crete there are also
three statutes on water use, but not in connection with the famous Code: IC IV
43 Bb, 52, 73 A. Four other inscriptions are worth mentioning, from Mytilene (IG
XII 2, 4 + IG XII Suppl., p. 2; c. 350 B.C.), Pergamon (the so-called Astynomoi-
inscription, preserving statutes from the late second century B.C., see Klaffenbach
1953, 4–11 for text and German translation), Andania (IG V 1, 1390; 92/91 B.C.),
and a fragmentary one from Ephesos (Heberdey et al. 1912, no. 18, lines 6–12 =
Inschr.Eph. 2018; A.D. 4/14); see Koerner 1974, 156–7. There are some statutes on
water use also in the recently discovered fifth-century city law from Thasos, see
Duchêne 1992, 19–20 with translation pp. 33–4. These inscriptions will all be dealt
with below.

4 Thus Klingenberg 1976, 62–3, who convincingly argues that Plato's writings

-557-

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Handbook of Ancient Water Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction ix
  • I. Water-Supply 1
  • I.1 - Geological Background, Climate, Water Resources 3
  • I.2 - Collection of Water 21
  • I.3 - Wells 29
  • I.4 - Qanats 35
  • I.5 - Aqueducts 39
  • I.6 Engineering Works 67
  • I.7 Purity of Water 95
  • Ii. Urban Use 101
  • Ii.1 - Urban Water Transport and Distribution 103
  • Ii.2 - Industrial Uses of Water* 127
  • Ii.3 - Drainage and Sanitation* 151
  • Iii. Irrigation and Rural Drainage 181
  • Iii.1 - Irrigation 183
  • Iii.2 - Water-Lifting 217
  • Iii.3 - Land Drainage 303
  • Iv. Larger Hydraulic Infringements on Nature 319
  • Iv.1 - Canals 321
  • Iv.2 - Reservoirs and Dams 331
  • V. Water-Power 341
  • V.1 - Theoretical Hydraulics, Automata, and Water Clocks 343
  • V.2 - The Water-Mill 371
  • V.3 - Industrial Applications of Water-Power 401
  • Vi. Water as an Aesthetic and Recreational Element 411
  • Vi.1 - Fountains and Nymphaea 413
  • Vi.2 - Water Landscaping 453
  • Vi.3 - The Water Management of Greek and Roman Baths 467
  • Vii. Water Legislation in the Ancient World (C. 2200 B.C.–c. A.D. 500) 537
  • Vii.1 - Mesopotamia, the Hittites and the Arabian Peninsula 539
  • Vii.2 - Egypt 551
  • Vii.3 - The Greek World 557
  • Vii.4 - The Roman World 575
  • Viii. Historical Context. the Socio-Economic Background and Effects 605
  • Viii.1 - The Neolithic and Bronze Ages 607
  • Viii.2 - The Iron Age, and the Archaic and Classical Periods 617
  • Viii.3 - The Hellenistic Period 631
  • Viii.4 - The Roman Empire 649
  • References 661
  • Indices 703
  • 2. Index of Personal Names 713
  • 3. Geographical Index 718
  • 4. Subject Index 735
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