Pipes in the Astynomoi Law

Sara Saba

Duke University

The Astynomoi Law is a civic regulation from Pergamon whose text, re-engraved most likely under Hadrian, dates to the Hellenistic age. This text inscribed in four columns touches upon many topics concerning the day-to-day administration of a Hellenistic polis, among which the water distribution system occupies most of the last column. The city's concern for this issue emerges already in the second column of the document. These passages containing the description of the piping system and how the residents were supposed to maintain it are still debated and are the subject of my investigation.

Pipes (ochetoi) were laid across properties and, according to the prescriptions of the Astynomoi Law, the owners were supposed to intervene and turn them from meteoros into kryptos. These two adjectives are the real crux of these passages, since ultimately they describe the type of pipes used or to be used. In my paper I argue that the polis requests the residents to transform open channels into pipes, which can still rest on the surface, instead of being dug underground, for practical and financial reasons. In addition to archeological, epigraphic and philological data from Pergamon, evidence from areas other than Asia Minor support this thesis. For example, several Attic horoi recording the acquisition of land spells out that the pipes (ochetoi) were in fact underground (IG II² 2491 and SEG XIX 181-182). The combined evidence points to the hypothesis that the provision from Pergamon is the same that is found for Athens in Ath. Pol. 50.2 where the city attempts to eliminate unhygienic open channels carrying dirty water through the streets.


Back to 2006 Meeting Home Page