Ancient hydraulic works

Athens fountain

Use: Urban Water Supply
Construction era: Mycanean
Types: Fountain
Operation era: Mycanean
Location: Greece - Athens - North fountain
  • Showlech T., Water management in the Bronze Age: Greece and Anatolia, Water Supply, 7(1), 77-84, 2007.

A large cleft in the rock on the north side of the Acropolis functioned as a natural reservoir, which was accessible only from the summit of the hill. The Mycenaean engineers dug into this cleft, which varies in width from 1-3 m, to a depth of 34.50 m and constructed an 197 underground fountain, 4 m in diameter, reached by eight flights of stairs. A settling pit in the middle of the reservoir acted as a filter to collect mud and other impurities. Iakovidis reports that “even in summer the water level was high enough for it to be drawn, by means of a bucket tied to rope, from the bottom step of the staircase” (Iakovidis, 1983). The descent opens underneath the fortification wall and is thought to have consisted of a corbelled gallery of the sort found also in the access passageways to the secured water supply at Mycenae and Tiryns. The first two flights of stairs ended at a “natural opening in the cleft which leads outside, to the cave of Aglauros” (but cf. Dontas 1983 on the location of the Aglaurion). According to Broneer (1939), the fountain was in use for only about a quarter century, when presumably the threat that led to the securing of an enclosed water supply, along with strengthening of the fortifications in the latter half of the 13th century, was no longer felt to require such precautions. Athens is the only major Mycenaean citadel which did not suffer destruction at the end of the Bronze Age, and the construction and subsequent abandonment of the North Fountain might be thought to indicate a concern for increased security at the time of widespread destruction elsewhere, which in the end was not required for the defence of the Acropolis.

External links:

Except where otherwise noted, the text and the pictures are copyright by their respective authors. The entire compilation is
(C) 2009-2010 National Technical University of Athens
Except where otherwise noted, permission is hereby granted to copy, distribute and modify this work, either in part or the entire compilation, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike license version 3.0.