This 1998 book offers an original discussion of an element - water - and its relationship with people. In particular it shows how early medieval Italian societies coped with the problems of having too much or too little water, and analyses their use of it. Such treatment illuminates the workings both of post-classical societies and of the environments in which these societies lived. Domestic usage, bathing, irrigation and drainage, fishing, and milling all receive full coverage. This is an original, interdisciplinary study which proves that even after the 'fall' of Rome, people continued a dialectical relationship with the natural resources that shaped their experiences just as decisively as their efforts redesigned the waterscape. It will be of interest not only to Italianists: historians of technology, agrarian, social, and cultural historians, and environmental historians will all find much that is stimulating.
Introduction; 1. Water for everyday use; 2. Water, baths, and corporeal washing; 3. The wet and the dry: water in agriculture; 4. Water, fish, and fishing; 5. Water and milling in early medieval Italy; 6. Conclusion: the hydrological cycle in the early Middle Ages.