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Lead drain cover, Roman, 1-400 CE

The Roman civilisation is renowned for developing advanced systems that influenced the community’s health. These included the establishment of street cleaning, waste disposal and fresh water supplies in a large number of Roman towns and cities. This drain cover allowed rain water to flow into water pipes but prevented material such as mud and rocks falling into the drain and blocking pipes. The cover also prevented people getting their foot stuck in drains. The drain cover belonged to the private collection of the Italian tenor Evangelista Gennaro Gorga (1865-1957). He sold part of his collection in 1924 to Henry Wellcome for the significant price of £8,000. A second part was offered and bought in 1936 after Gorga was experiencing financial difficulties.

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Glossary: drain cover

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