The Ten Books on Architecture, 8.4

Vitruvius  translated by Joseph Gwilt

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Of the Means of Judging of Water

4The trial and proof of water are made as follows. If it be of an open and running stream, before we lay it on, the shape of the limbs of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood should be looked to and considered. If they are strongly formed, of fresh colour, with sound legs, and without blear eyes, the supply is of good quality. Also, if digging to a fresh spring, a drop of it be thrown into a Corinthian vessel made of good brass, and leave no stain thereon, it will be found excellent. Equally good that water will be, which, after boiling in a cauldron, leaves no sediment of sand or clay on the bottom.

2So if vegetables are quickly cooked over the fire in a vessel full of this water, it shews that the water is good and wholesome. Moreover, if the water itself, when in the spring is limpid and transparent, and the places over which it runs do not generate moss, nor reeds, nor other filth be near it, every thing about it having a clean appearance, it will be manifest by these signs, that such water is light and exceedingly wholesome.

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