The ancient Water Pipe from Melanes to the Chora

The Chóra, the main settlement of Naxos, has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, i.e. for over 6,000 years. During the Bronze Age and in ancient times an important settlement existed in the area of the Chóra, of which numerous remains have been found in excavations. In the Archaic period, a water pipe was built that lead from the springs at Flerió, near the village of Mélanes, to the Chóra, to supply the inhabitants with water.

The water pipe was in use from the 6th century BC to the 8th century AD. During the Roman period, the old water pipe consisting of clay tubes was replaced by an open canal. The water pipe starts at about 200 meters above sea level and has a length of 11 kilometers. The average gradient of 2% is quite large for an ancient water pipe. Similar, albeit much longer and more elaborate water pipes were built at the same time in other areas of Greece, such as Athens and Samos. Lygdamis, the tyrant of Naxos, who ruled the island towards the end of the Archaic epoch, knew the tyrants of the two cities mentioned – so it seems likely that the Naxian water pipeline was built under Lygdamis.

The springs of Flerió lie in the vicinity of the Koúros of Mélanes. Even today the adjacent valley has plenty of water all year round and high plane trees and oleander grow here.

The springs of Flerió lie a little to the left outside of the picture, behind the chain of hills in the middle of the picture. The water pipe runs from there through a tunnel into the valley in the middle of the picture and then along the hills to the Chora, which lies behind the hills on the right in the background of the picture.

The water pipe was built during the Archaic period in the 6th century BC, when the sanctuary and the quarries of Flerió were in use. The pipe consisted of carefully manufactured clay tubes of exactly the same size, which were stuck into each other; the joints were closed with mortar. Over the centuries, the clay pipes became clogged with lime, so that in places a new pipeline was built just above the old one. During the Roman period, the clogged clay pipe was replaced by an open brick canal that followed the same route.

Along the road to Kourounochóri several sections of the ancient water pipe are encountered; above the clay pipeline traces of the later open canal can be seen.

Here a long section of the water pipe is preserved.

The water pipe consists of clay tubes of exactly the same size.

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