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Ownership and Exploitation of Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World$
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Paul Erdkamp, Koenraad Verboven, and Arjan Zuiderhoek

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198728924

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728924.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022

Water Use and Productivity in Roman Agriculture

Water Use and Productivity in Roman Agriculture

Selling, Sharing, Servitudes

(p.132) 8 Water Use and Productivity in Roman Agriculture
Ownership and Exploitation of Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World

Christer Bruun

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the conditions under which water was used in the Roman countryside. The literary and epigraphic sources show both that water could be traded as a commodity and that hydraulic resources could be managed as cooperative enterprises. Most of the material in Roman legal texts concerning water focuses on servitudes. The servitude is permanent, although it can be dissolved through actions (including non-use) by the owner of the dominant property. As long as it is in use, a servitude may often favour private property at the expense of the community. A servitude needed to be useful (utilis) for the dominant property in order to continue to be in force, but since also the aspect of pleasure (amoenitas) was included in the concept of usefulness, it was clearly not a question of maximizing productivity that drove the development of this sector of Roman legal thought and societal practice.

Keywords:   land ownership, property rights, water, servitudes, Roman law

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