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Mastering water


The manuscripts of the Sienese engineers attest their efforts to master the technology of water - a vital element for communities such as Siena, which developed far from waterways.

These endeavors gave rise to a full-fledged local specialization that manifested itself in several ways: one was the extraordinary network of tunnels forming the underground water-conveyance network known as the bottini. Another was the care the Sienese lavished on the construction, embellishment, and hydraulic, legal, economic, and social organization of their public-fountain system.

The triumphs of Sienese engineers over adverse environmental conditions were echoed in the popular imagination by the legend of Diana, the mythical river of plentiful, crystal-pure water that flowed - so the Sienese believed - in the entrails of their city.

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