Water pipe

Kalfata, Bulgaria
Greek, 4th-2nd century BC

Part of an ancient water supply system

This length of water pipe was excavated at Kalfata by the Bulgarian Archaeological Service. It consists of the ends of two sections, both broken at the far ends but still held together by the original double lead sleeve. The sleeving was applied to seal joints at intervals of two metres all along the pipe; no other examples of this type of joint are as yet known from such an early date.

The pipe formed part of the system supplying water to the ancient city of Apollonia, modern Sozopol, on the Black Sea coast. It conveyed the water from Kavatsite, the same site still used for supplying water to Sozopol.

Apollonia was a colony founded in 610 BC by Ionian Greeks from the city of Miletus (in modern Turkey). It was a thriving cultural and commercial centre with the Apollonians acting as middlemen between the native Scythians to the north, with their rich agricultural hinterland and magnificent goldwork, and other cultural centres of the Greek world, principally Miletus, Athens and Rhodes.

The pipe was given to the British Museum in 2004 by the London-based Pipeline Industries Guild, with the blessing of the Director of the National Museum of History in Sofia, who had presented it to the Guild whilst they were in the course of setting up a branch in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was just a small segment of some 160 metres of ancient pipe that so far had been excavated.

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More information


J.W. Humphrey, J.P. Oleson and A.N. Sherwood, Greek and Roman technology: a (London, Routledge, 1998)

O. Wikander, 'Handbook of water technology', Technology and change in histo (2000)


Length: 110.000 cm
Diameter: 13.000 cm
Thickness: 3.000 cm ((wall))

Museum number

GR 2004.6-16.1


Donated by the Pipeline Industries Guild


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