The first fountains were found on drawings in the ancient tombs of Egypt. These drawings portrayed fountains in courtyards. They were drawn to be rectangular fountain with trees lining the edges. In Egypt, in the hot desert sun, these fountains, lined with shady trees, provided a cool place to relax and escape from the sun.
The Persian culture altered the appearance of garden fountains, creating enclosed gardens and pools. The fountains became complex designs creating stunning architectural areas. During the Roman period, the idea of cleanliness and bathing was very important, so for them, garden fountains became public baths as well. So, like the Egyptians, these cultures, located in the hot Middle East, used fountains a a way to find refuge from the heat. Other countries would also begin to build fountains as well. Spain has records of fountains dating back to the 15th century, while India has records of fountains from the 17th-18th centuries. China and Japan have courtyards that were centered around water pools. The focus on including water and making it available has been active in all cultures, for more than just the basic need of humans to consume water, but for bathing and artistic reasons as well. The Renaissance brought a more artistic and intricate scene. Fountains become more grandiose, and gardens were more architectural and complex. The Renaissance created a fire that burned through all of Europe, with these Italianate Gardens popping up everywhere.
The gardens of the 18th century were remarkably different from the fountains that were built during the 20th century. These gardens were designed to look like the wilderness, with the designs being rather haphazardly designed so they would look natural. However in the 20th century, fountains were used by artists to being nature indoors. Adding indoor fountains and pools to shopping malls or office, or even in homes.
Fountains were first created as a purely functional tool, to stay cool and get water. Aqueducts were used to carry water to the fountains. Until the 19th century water flow in fountains was dependent on gravity. So the water source had to be higher than the fountain. The Romans transformed the use of fountains into decorative features, using them for bathing and drinking, but also decorated the fountains in bronzed statues and stone masks.
The 19th century, with the invention of indoor plumbing, allowed the main source of drinking and washing water to be in the home, so the fountains function becomes purely decorative. Gravity was replaced with pumps allowing water to be re-circulated through fountain, as well as allowed the fountain to shoot water even higher in the air.
Today, fountains have become a source of decoration for city squares and parks. Often they are built as a memorial or a tribute for an individual or to commemorate a specific even in history. They have become very sophisticated, designed to synchronize with lights and music, to create fantastic water shows. Some fountains are designed for public use as well, acting like huge sprinklers for kids and families to have fun in the hot weather. Other fountains are added to parks and recreational sites for drinking purposes.
Fountains have played a role throughout history for many different purposes, and continue to play a function in society today. As technology improves, fountains will also improve also, creating more fantastic and amazing water designs!