Roman sluice can still be used after 2,300 years

The hundred-meter-long sewer system is in such a good condition that it can be used today for storm water drainage.

The hundred-meter-long sewer system is in such a good condition that it can be used today for storm water drainage.

The 457m tunnel system under the Italian city of Pompeii was originally built to drain water from the hillside down to the urban center. The results of the tunnel network analysis show that they are almost intact after millennia and are still in excellent condition.

Picture 1 of Roman sluice can still be used after 2,300 years Photo 1 of Roman sluice can still be used after 2,300 years
A tunnel inside the Roman sewer system.(Photo: Ancient Origins).

"The entrance to the sewer is blocked but due to the current problem of drainage, we will start using the sewer again," said Massimo Osanna, director of Pompeii Archaeological Park. "The reuse of the sewer is a certification of the outstanding technical level of the time".

Pompeii Archaeological Park collaborates with cave researchers from the Cocceius Association on a new project. Since 2018, they have carefully assessed the 457 m tunnel size is large enough for an adult to slip through. About the remaining 457m will undergo similar analysis to determine the status and conclude whether the network is suitable for use again.

Two dug pits near the Sagittarius statue in the middle of the city provide access to the sewer system. This system leads down the hill below the Via Marina and the Imperial Villa. The system allows to bring rain water from Pompeii city to the sea. The network is quite complex but has a reasonable structure and is built in three phases.

At first, the system was built in the late 3rd or early 2nd century BC when the Samnites lived in the city before the Romans arrived. Later, the Romans expanded the sewer system in the first century BC. Evidence in the tunnel shows that the last part of the structure was built a few years before the Vesuvius volcano destroyed the city.

"The project to explore the tunnel is on the list of activities of Pompeii archaeological park, helping to expand our understanding of the area," said Massimo Osanna, general manager of Pompeii archaeological park.

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