Lead water pipe, Roman, 20-47 CE
- 20-47 CE in Roman Empire
Section of water pipe, lead, Roman, inscribed, possibly from the house of the empress Messalina, executed 47AD
The Roman civilisation is renowned for developing advanced systems that influenced the community’s health. These included the establishment of street cleaning, waste disposal and fresh water supplies in a large number of Roman towns and cities. Lead water pipes were used to supply the homes of the wealthy citizens of Rome with water – it is not uncommon to find the owner’s name cast into the pipe. Having a water supply plumbed directly into one’s home was a status symbol that few could afford. This inscription translates from Latin as “The most notable lady Valeria Messalina”. Valeria Messalina (c. 22-47/48 CE) was the third wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius. She was murdered by her husband after he found out about her extramarital affairs.
We now know that lead is not an ideal material for water pipes as it can dissolve in acidic water and poison the supply.
- Classical & Medieval Medicine
- Object Number:
- water pipe
- pipe - conduit
- Gorga, Evangelista
Cite this page
We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.
Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero
Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence
Download catalogue entry as json
View manifest in IIIF viewer
Download manifest IIIF
Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.