On Architecture

Vitruvius Pollio

Vitruvius Pollio, creator; Morgan, M. H. (Morris Hicky), 1859-1910, translator

28. For it is obvious that nothing in the world is so necessary for use as water, seeing that any living creature can, if deprived of grain or fruit or meat or fish, or any one of them, support life by using other foodstuffs; but without water no animal nor any proper food can be produced, kept in good condition, or prepared.

Consequently we must take great care and pains in searching for springs and selecting them, keeping in view the health of mankind.

1. SPRING should be tested and proved in advance in the following ways. If they run free and open, inspect and observe the physique of the people who dwell in the vicinity before beginning to conduct the water, and if their frames are strong, their complexions fresh, legs sound, and eyes clear, the springs deserve complete approval. If it is a spring just dug out, its water is excellent if it can be sprinkled into a Corinthian vase or into any other sort made of good bronze without leaving a spot on it. Again, if such water is boiled in a bronze cauldron, afterwards left for a time, and then poured off without sand or mud being found at the bottom of the cauldron, that water also will have proved its excellence.

2. And if green vegetables cook quickly when put into a vessel of such water and set over a fire, it will be a proof that the water is good and wholesome. Likewise if the water in the spring is itself limpid and clear, if there is no growth of moss or reeds where it spreads and flows, and if its bed is not polluted by filth of any sort but has a clean appearance, these signs indicate that the water is light and wholesome in the highest degree.