Fucin lake

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Map of Lake Fucin before drainage

The Fucin Lake (also Fucino Lake, Celano Lake , Italian Lago Fucino or Lago di Celano , Latin Fucinus Lacus ) was the largest inland body of water in central Italy until it was completely drained in 1875 .

Plan of the drainage of the lake, 1875

It was four kilometers south of the city of Avezzano at an altitude of 662 meters above sea level and covered about 155 square kilometers. The karst lake , surrounded by mountains all around , had no natural runoff, so that its water level often fluctuated considerably. The surrounding towns were therefore often affected by floods.

In ancient times, Marruvium , the capital of the Italian tribe of the Martians, lay on the shore of the lake . The city experienced its heyday during the Roman Empire ; it was surrounded by fertile alluvial soil , which enabled profitable farming , and the fish caught in Lake Fucin were in great demand in Rome. In 52 AD Claudius had the greatest naumachie (staging of a sea battle) in history staged on Lake Fucin . In the middle of the lake he had a mechanical triton set up, which announced the beginning of the battle with a fanfare. On both sides, 19,000 slaves fought on 50 ships each.

Caesar already intended to drain the lake in order to avert the risk of flooding and to gain arable land. In addition, the marshy shores of the lake were a breeding ground for mosquitoes that transmit malaria .

In the years 41-52 Claudius was then named after him Claudius tunnel under the Monte Salviano for Liri -flow dig, to regulate the lake level. This tunnel was not suitable for a complete drainage - whether this was intended by Claudius at all is not clear from the ancient sources.

The tunnel, where up to 30,000 workers dug, was driven in a light shaft. For this purpose, inclined shafts were repeatedly sunk from the surface, which were connected by vertical shafts. These shafts were mainly used for orientation, but excavated material could also be transported over them. After about 3.4 km of the 5.6 km long tunnel, the workers came across a heavily water-bearing layer of clay and rock, which even made it necessary to use scooping devices. In this area there was an 85 m long collapse already during the construction phase or shortly afterwards, which was then bypassed with a bypass. The tunnel was repaired and expanded under Hadrian . In the Middle Ages - possibly under Frederick II  - there was another collapse in the bypass section, which was repaired. However, even these efforts did not last and the water level of the lake gradually rose again.

In 1752, after a long dry spell, the ruins of Marruvium appeared; among other things, a Claudius statue was recovered. From 1783 the level of the lake rose steadily and threatened the surrounding villages. It was not until the 19th century that the lake was successfully drained. Work began on July 10, 1854 on behalf of the Roman banker Alessandro Torlonia under the direction of the Swiss engineer Franz Mayor de Montricher , who had already pushed the planning ahead. When De Montricher died four years later, his colleague Enrico Samuele Bermont (* 1823 in Assens , Canton Vaud, † 1870 in Montpellier ) took over the continuation of the project. In 1862, the construction of a 6.3 kilometer long and 21 meter wide canal began. During the construction of Torlonia's tunnel, the ancient tunnel was destroyed, but fortunately documented.

The third and last emptying of the lake took place in 1870. By 1875 the area was drained and could be used as cultivated land. Today the Fucin Basin is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in Italy.

Panoramic view over Lake Fucin from Monte Sirente


to the ancient tunnel

  • Brigitte Cech: Technology in antiquity. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt, 2010, licensed edition from Theiss Verlag Stuttgart, ISBN 978-3-8062-2080-3 .

Web links

Commons : Fuciner See  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Suetonis: Caeser 44
  2. Suetonis: Claudius 20
  3. Pliny the Elder: Naturalis Historia 36,124
  4. Historia Augusta: Hadrianus 22
  5. ^ Christoph PJ Ohlig: Integrated Land and Water Resources Management in History - Proceedings of the Special Session on History. Books on Demand, 2005, p. 178 f.

Coordinates: 41 ° 59 ′ 43 ″  N , 13 ° 32 ′ 53 ″  E