The Aqua Alexandrina

As I continue looking into the transfer of water and the Roman’s invention of the aqueduct I have come across one specific aqueduct that really sparked my interest. The Aqua Alexandrina was one of the last aqueducts built during ancient Roman times and was built between 208 and 235 AD by Alexander Severus. 

One of the main reasons this aqueduct strikes me the most is not because it was the longest total length, but that 10 of its total 14 miles were built on arches. As you can see from this picture, even finding enough stone to build an aqueduct that is that high for 10 miles is quite an accomplishment itself. On top of this though they carved into it beautifully refined arches that show the true beauty of Roman architecture. 

Another interesting fact about this aqueduct was that it was not only used for collecting water for the people living in the city. Flavius Belisarius used this aqueduct as a tactic in war. Because the aqueduct ran straight into Naples, Belisarius used this to his advantage by sneaking troops into the aqueduct for a surprise attack that ended up in him taking over the city. This happened in the late 500s when which the aqueduct was not currently flowing with water so that the troops could easily walk down the empty aqueduct. 




2 thoughts on “The Aqua Alexandrina

  1. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    I.A. this is an interesting post. I disagree, however, with your point that it was an accomplishment for the Romans to find enough stone to build an aquaduct 10 feet high. The Romans actually controlled and had access to hundreds of quarries throughout their empire. Furthermore, as indicated by the author of this website (, the Romans were expert brick manufacturers. They even made enough bricks to export their product to various parts of the world. If you are interested in learning more about the history of Roman Quarries, you could read Alfred Michael Hirt’s book, Imperial Mines and Quarries in the Roman World: Organizational Aspects 27 BC-AD 235 (2010).


  2. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    Something that I thought about when looking at the picture of the Aqua Alexandrina is that the arches allow them to use a lot less material than a solid wall, yet it is still strong. I’m not sure that is the reason for the arches but its just a thought. Also, the general that devised the strategy to use the aqueduct to travel into the city might be the smartest general I have heard of. It is such a perfect strategy because you wouldn’t have to worry about being spotted, it is a flat and straight path, and takes you directly into the city. It would make a great movie!
    -Skylar H.


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