The historical use of water resources in karst


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Publication Date

September 2014


Karst landscapes are characterized by lack or scarce presence of water at the surface. Ancient populations had, therefore, to face the issue of water availability by gaining a deep knowledge of the territories where they settled. Several techniques were developed at this aim, until reaching a high level of capability to collect, transport, and distribute water, even at long distances. Many areas in southern Italy still nowadays present hydraulic works of remarkable interest and historical values, most of which develop underground for long stretches. The present paper is an overview of the main ancient works designed and built by man to exploit water resources in karst; it describes some examples of surface channels and underground aqueducts, together with other features used for water storage in karst. The lessons learned from the ability of ancient populations to use water resources in a sustainable way are worthy to be re-evaluated nowadays, in times when we are periodically facing hydric crisis and droughts.


Karst Landscapes, Southern Italy, Hydraulic Works, Exploit Water Resources, Water Storage In Karst, Hydric Crisis, Droughts

Document Type



Environmental Earth Sciences, Vol. 74, no. 1 (2014-09-16).