The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 2: Roman Gardens (500BC-500AD)

Roman Ice Houses

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72. The luxury of ice in cooling liquors was discovered by the Romans at the time when they began to force fruits. Daines Barrington notices this as a remarkable circumstance; and adds, as a singular coincidence, the coeval invention of these arts in England. The art of preserving snow for cooling liquors, during the summer, in warm countries, was known in the earliest ages. It is mentioned by Solomon. (Proverbs, xxv. 13.) Ice was also preserved for the same purpose; but chiefly in the northern countries. Snow is at present employed in Italy, Spain, and Portugal; ice in Persia. The Persian ice-pits are described by travellers. There is no account of Grecian or Roman ice-houses given by any of the ancient writers on agriculture. The cooling of water without snow or ice is very ancient. Pliny gives the invention to Nero; but it was known to Hippocrates, according to Galen; and Aristotle was certainly acquainted with it. (See Beckmann's Hist. of Inventions, vol. iii.)