While writing our earlier post on Rome, we remembered that the city is pockmarked with stone markers accurately recording the dates and high water marks of historic flood events. Most are embedded on the sides of buildings, and their inscriptions read something like this:
ANNO DOMINI MCDXXII IN DIE SANCTI ANDREE CREVIT AQUA TIBERIS USQUE AD SUMITATEM ISTIUS LAPIDIS TEMPORE DOMINI MARTINI PAPE V ANNO VI.
In the year of the Lord 1422 on the day of Saint Andrew the water of the Tiber rose as far as to top of this stone, in the time of Pope Martin V, his sixth year.
In many markers, a finger, from which a swirl of lovely, frothy curlicues swooshes out, points instead to the upper limit of inundation.
According to Aquae Urbis Romae, “nearly one hundred flood markers still exist,” with the earliest dating to the 13th century. None from earlier eras are extant, but presumably there were many, a collective testament to a watery past.
When it wasn't being ravaged by veritable dry disasters such as barbarian invasions, plagues and fires, Rome drowned.