The Byzantine cisterns of Constantinople

K. A. Ward*, M. Crapper, K. Altug, J. Crow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The most unusual aspect of Byzantine Constantinople's water system was the large number of cisterns throughout the city. This research integrates the two most recent in-depth studies of the cisterns to determine that there have been at least 211 cisterns attributed to the Byzantine city. The distribution of the cisterns indicates that the size and number of cisterns constructed reduced over time, with more and larger cisterns developed prior to the 7th century. Cisterns are concentrated in the older area of the city and sparser on the periphery, but with later ones more common in the peripheral areas, suggesting that water provision was extended over time, and although the majority of cisterns are small, most storage volume is concentrated in the three largest open-air cisterns. The extended, detailed list produced will allow more in-depth investigations to proceed. Analysis of the distribution of cisterns across the city creates a framework for understanding the development and functioning of Byzantine Constantinople's complex water supply system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1499-1506
Number of pages8
JournalWater Supply
Issue number6
Early online date4 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • cisterns
  • Constantinople
  • water supply


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