Water has always been a necessity for human beings. How individuals and populations have reacted to, adapted, and manipulated water is apparent in the archaeological record. Ancient urban water systems often utilized a number of components, including aqueducts, siphons, underground tunneling, and cisterns. This thesis proposes that Greco-Roman theaters were utilized as components of ancient urban water systems in specific environments, and that this theater type may be identified in the archaeological and literary record as a water catchment theater. The goal of my thesis was to define, describe, identify, and plot the distribution of water catchment theaters in order to compare their distribution with the environments where they were found. Previous research on Greco-Roman theaters has not focused on theaters as components of ancient urban water systems. Because of this deficiency, it was necessary to define what water catchment theaters were, describe the architectural traits that were found in water catchment theaters, and finally, using this information, identify water catchment theaters and look at their distribution throughout the Greco-Roman world. To meet my objective I created a new typology of water theaters based on extensive research and on-site visits to 30 theaters in five countries, surveyed and classified the 927 theaters found in Frank Sear's Roman Theatres: An Architectural Study, and plotted the distribution of water catchment theaters in relation to space, time, and climate. My study gives new insight into the uses of Greco-Roman theaters but also introduces new methods to examine these ancient buildings with relation to their potential roles in urban water systems.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Anthropology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Greco-Roman, water systems, typology, theater, climate, water catchment



Included in

Anthropology Commons