previous next


The following are indications of the presence of water:— rushes, reeds, the plant mentioned with reference to this point already,1 or frogs sitting squatted on a spot for a long time together. As to the wild2 willow, alder, vitex, reed, and ivy, all of which grow spontaneously on low grounds in which there is a settling of rain water from higher localities, considered as indications of the presence of water, they are all3 of them of a deceptive nature. A sign much more to be depended upon, is a certain misty exhalation, visible from a distance before sunrise. The better to observe this, some persons ascend an eminence, and lie flat at full length upon the ground, with the chin touching the earth. There is also another peculiar method of judging upon this point, known only to men of experience in these matters: in the very middle of the heats of summer they select the hottest hours of the day, and observe how the sun's rays are reflected in each spot; and if, notwithstanding the general dryness of the earth, a locality is observed to present a moist appearance, they make no doubt of finding water there.

But so intense is the stress upon the eyes in doing this, that it is very apt to make them ache; to avoid which inconvenience, they have recourse to other modes of testing. They dig a hole, for instance, some five feet in depth, and cover it with vessels of unbaked pottery, or with a copper basin well-oiled; they then place a burning lamp on the spot, with an arch-work over it of leaves, and covered with earth on the top. If, after a time, they find the pots wet or broken, the copper covered with moisture, or the lamp extinguished, but not from want of oil, or if a lock of wool that has been left there is found to be moist, it is a sign of the presence of water, beyond all doubt. With some persons it is the practice to light a fire on the spot before they dig the hole, a method which renders the experiment with the vessels still more conclusive.

1 In B. xxvi. c. 16.

2 "Salix erratica."

3 Surely not the reed, as he has mentioned it above as one of the indications to be depended upon. In one MS. it appears to be omitted, and with justice, probably.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: