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Portus - 6 Cistern on Monte Giulio

The cistern was built during the reign of Trajan. It measures 27 x 15 metres. The preserved height is 7 metres. The facade was decorated with large floor-niches on all four sides. At least those in the short sides were originally fountains. The interior originally consisted of a hall with three piers and cross-vaults, behind which was a room for distributing the water. Later four rooms were created in the hall. The cistern contained approximately 1.152.000 litres. The excavators discovered several infillings from the third and fourth century that were related to earthquakes. In the cistern the bodies were found of people who died during a terrible earthquake. They carried coins dated to 236 and 239 AD.

Plan of the cistern.

Reconstruction drawing of the cistern.

Two of the four rooms of the cistern.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Floor niches in one of the long sides of the cistern.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

[jthb - 21-May-2009]