Bread_and_Water_Septimius_Severus_and_th - Forthcoming...

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Forthcoming, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 1 Bread and Water: Septimius Severus and the Rise of the Curator aquarum et Miniciae 1 Rabun Taylor Until a few decades ago, it was generally believed that the celebrated aqueduct-powered flour mills on the Janiculum Hill in ancient Rome were an invention of the late third or the fourth century A.D. 2 Their importance in the late-antique city can be extrapolated from a variety of sources, but they are not directly attested earlier than the regionary catalogues in the mid-fourth century. 3 In the 1970s and 1980s, as it became ever more evident that sophisticated water milling technologies had already been widespread in the Roman world for some time, topographers and historians incrementally moved the date of this event back into the third century. 4 Naturally, they tried to calibrate their revision to historical circumstances. Thus Örjan Wikander suggested that the introduction of the mills corresponded to Aurelian's principate, when the old grain dole, according to the Historia Augusta, was replaced by the distribution of baked loaves of bread. 5 Filippo Coarelli contended that the reforms to the dole, and thus the centralized, aqueduct-powered grain milling system, began half a century earlier under Alexander Severus, whose biography in the Historia Augusta references his sponsorship of “many mechanical works” ( opera mechanica plurima ). 6 In the meantime, new archaeological evidence has come to light. In 1990 and 1991, Malcolm Bell excavated a mill complex under the Via Giacomo Medici previously known only from sketches and descriptions of 1 I am deeply grateful to Christer Bruun for many suggestions and revisions that have improved this article immeasurably. I also thank Nayla Muntasser, Katherine Rinne, and an anonymous reader for evaluations and commentary on various parts of this article or its arguments. 2 Bennett and Elton 1899, 37 38, 83 84; Moritz 1958, 138; Kiechle 1969, 123 127; Tengström 1974 76 77. For commentary on these and other sources, see Wikander 1979, 13 36; 1984, 9 15. For more recent research on ancient mills and a general backdating of water mill technology, see Lewis 1997; Wikander 2000, 394 398; Lucas 2006, 9 50. 3 For a full discussion of the late-antique and medieval sources, see Wilson 2001. 4 Schiøler 1986, 162 163 and tav. IX. 5 SHA Aurel. 35.1 2, 47.1, 48.1 4; Zos. 1.61; Wikander 1979, 13 n. 4, 23 24, 34. 6 SHA Alex. Sev. 22.4; Coarelli 1987, 445 456.
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Forthcoming, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 2 Rodolfo Lanciani (A on plan 1). Then in 1998 and 1999 Andrew Wilson investigated an adjoining part of the same complex, under the parking lot of the American Academy. 7 On the force of Coarelli's argument and limited ceramic evidence, Bell has proposed—and Wilson provisionally accepted—a late Severan date for the mill. But Bell offers another altermative: that the introduction of the mills took place even before, in Septimius Severus' reign, under the direction of the newly established cura aquarum et Miniciae . From the earliest years of the Severan period until at
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  • Fall '11
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  • The Land, American Academy, Septimius Severus, Praetorian guard, Praetorian Prefect

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