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Roman marble puteal with Bacchic procession, late 1st-century CE.

A puteal (Latin: from puteus (well) — plural: putealia[1][2]) is a classical water well wellhead built around a well's access opening.


Puteal with bas-relief in the Campo S. Giovanni e Paolo, Venice.

The enclosure keeps people from falling down a well otherwise open at grade level.[3] When fit with a cast iron lid, as traditionally in the public squares, or campos, of Venice, Italy, both the citizens and water supply were protected.[2]

They were used as an accessible point of water distribution, and as an aesthetic architectural element. Locations included public town squares and private courtyards.[2]

Classical putealia[edit]

The classical puteal wellheads are made of carved stone, often marble in Europe. They are frequently decorated with bas-reliefs of classical Greek and Roman themes around their outer faces. An Ancient Roman one was in the Puteal Scribonianum structure in the Roman Forum, nothing remains.[1]

The term is also used for circular classical remains—spolia recycled after antiquity into well-heads, such as the Guildford Puteal at the British Museum.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wiktionary — Puteal
  2. ^ a b c Venetian Wellheads @ Venipedia. Accessed May 25, 2012.
  3. ^ John Weale, Rudimentary Dictionary of Terms Used in Architecture, Civil, Architecture, Naval, Building and Construction, Early and Ecclesiastical Art, Engineering, Civil, Engineering, Mechanical, Fine Art, Mining, Sur-veying, Etc., to Which Are Added Explanatory Observations on Numerous Subjects Connected with Practical Art and Science. (London: J. Weale, 1849), pg. 364.

External links[edit]