Water Supply Menu

home page project acknowledgements Fieldwork Photo Album Project Bibliography Reports from 1994 onwards 3d visualisation of the water supply system Fieldwork Methodology Geology, Hydogeology and the Water Supply of Constantinople Channels and Aqueducts from the springs around Halkali Channels and Aqueducts in the Forest of Belgrade Water Supply and Distribution in Constantinople Major Water Bridges on the Aqueduct System The Longest Roman Aqueduct Go To Anastasian Wall Pages Intoduction to the Water Supply Project historical overview of the development Contantinople's water supply Dynamic Navigation Map


The "Longest Roman Aqueduct"

Despite the attribution of the Bozdoğan Kemeri to the emperor Valens (AD 364-78) construction work probably dates from AD 345, in the reign of Constantius II (Mango 1995). Very little work had been carried out on the Thracian aqueducts until a recent publication by the hydrological engineer Professor Kâzim Çeçen, whose investigation of the long-distance system demonstrated the enormity of the construction (Çeçen 1996a; see also important earlier studies by Oreshkov 1915, 88-103; Dirimtekin 1959, 1968). Çeçen also produced the first map, showing in outline, the course of the water supply line based on interpolation from topographical maps and the fragmentary remains he observed.

a collapsed channelFrom its furthest source to its ultimate destination, the water supply line travels through the catchment areas of four major rivers in Thrace: the Ergene, the Istranca (Binkilic) Dere, the Karamandere and the Alibey. Building on Çeçen's work we have been able to redefine the aqueduct, not as a single long line, but as a vast and complex dendritic system, i.e. drawing in water from multiple sources in Thrace, rather than merely from a single major spring. The principal and furthest source was located at springs just west of the small town of Vize (Bizye) near the village of Pazarlı. During its period of greatest extent however the long-distance channel also collected water from other sources en route, most notably those in the Karamandere and Ergene valleys and also probably from a major spring near the village of Pinarca. Additional minor tributaries to the system have also been observed in the vicinity of the Anastasian Wall.

Closer to the city the situation becomes much more complicated as supply lines converge from the various sources to the west and north. One of the major complications in addressing issues of chronology, sources and destinations is caused by the fact that several different spring sources have been exploited throughout the history of the city and the early lines were often rebuilt and renovated. The Valens Aqueduct itself carried a number of channels dating, it seems, from various different periods (Dalman 1933). The closer sources in the Forest of Belgrade and at Halkalı were the most enduring and were individually exploited by the Roman, Byzantine and the Ottoman city. The substantial redevelopment of these lines after the 15th century has however meant that it is hard to unravel the earlier material from the Ottoman (Çeçen 1996b).


Two Systems
Paolo Bono in channelMost of our fieldwork has been focused on the water system in the vicinity of Anastasian Wall where the existence of two substanial parallel channels has been discovered, separated by over 6m in altitude near Kurşunlugerme, but gradually converging further east. The low-level channel is generally 2.4m high and 1.6m wide. The high-level channel is a narrower guage, at 0.60m wide with a height of 1m. From our investigations we believe that the 4th-century "Valens" system was more likely to be the "high-level" narrow channel. The low-level broad channel was therefore built as a massive supplement to the system, probably in the 5th or 6th centuries (see Ballıgerme-Kalfaköy section). The main source for this high-level system has been located around Papuç and Danamandıra in the Mandara Dere, where a large cave and spring have been located and two separate supply channels survive along the side of the valley above the river (see Papu section). Evidence suggests that the Vize-Ballıgerme section was also originally a narrow channel, but based on our current working hypothesis, this seems to have been replaced by the later wider channel (see Vize-Ballıgerme section).