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

A puteal (Latin: from puteus (well) — plural: putealia[1]) 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.[2] 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.[1]

Putealia were used as an accessible point of water distribution, and as an aesthetic architectural element. Locations included public town squares and private courtyards.[1]

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.

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 c Venetian Wellheads @ Venipedia[permanent dead link]. Accessed May 25, 2012.
  2. ^ 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.

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