Romans empire - 2nd century AD

Published on 30 January 2008
Proserpina, still in service after 18 centuries of use...
View from upstream of the dam


The Romans - masters of the waters

The importance of water in Roman civilisation is well known, as is the know how of its builders in this field. This is why the Mediterranean is strewn with remains which bear witness to the talent of the citizens of the empire in managing their territories.

Several of these structures have passed down the centuries to us and are still functioning, particularly in Spain. The Proserpina dam, near Merida, was constructed at the beginning of the 2nd century. 22 metres high, it permitted retention of 6 million cubic metres of water.

In Roman times this water was fed to Merida via the Los Milagros aqueduct, several kilometres long. It was used to supply the fountains and baths, and quite probably for industrial use. Nowadays the dam is still used for irrigation.

This permanence of a structure over nineteen centuries is testament to its value and flexibility, as well as the care lavished on its upkeep over different ages.