Ancient hydraulic works

Oiniades drainage

Use: Land Drainage
Construction era: Hellenistic
Types: Sewer Pipes
Operation era: Hellenistic
Location: Greece - Oiniades theater
  • M. Diamanti and I.K.Kalavrouziotis, Water Resources of Aitolia and Akarnania, Greece, and their Contribution to the Development of the Society from Classical to Roman Times, 1st IWA International Symposium on WATER AND WASTEWATER TECHNOLOGIES IN ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS, edited by A. N. Angelakis and D. Koutsoyiannis, Greece, 551-559, 2006.

A very well preserved example of ancient dockyards is located in the city of Oiniades. The construction is very impressive, since most of it is chiselled off the limestone rock and originally could house up to six ships. The neorion is found next to the mouth of the city’s north port. The reason it is mentioned here is that it makes an eloquent example of water-use as a criteria for the location of a city at a particular area. Nowadays the city of Oiniades is nothing but a rock hill in the middle of a rich plain, somewhat 20 km inland. The city in its prime, however, was on the shore side and a naval force, having both the sea and the river Acheloos working on its advantage (Strabo, Geogr. 10.2.20). Thucydides (Hist. 2.102.2) comments on the city’s defenses, saying that during wintertime it was impossible to march against the city with an army, since the river’s waters circled around the city creating a lake («περιλιμνάζων»), making passage impossible («άπορον ποιεί υπό του ύδατος»). In summertime - when most warfare was conducted – the conditions didn’t get much better for an invading army, since the surrounding lake became a swamp. The Achelloos River might have stolen the city away from the sea, but there was a time that it sustained and protected the city and its people as much as the strong stone walls did. The dockyards of Oiniades stand as a reminder of the nature’s forces and the benefits of working with nature and not against it.

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