Today, in our globalized post-modern world, we are all used to so-called “green terminology” due to its omnipresence in the media such as the daily news or documentaries, in political speech or even in our every-day grocery stores and cafeterias. This focus on environmental consciousness in economics, politics and social issues has from time to time been labelled as “ecological turn”, and studies in environmental history can’t seem to get tired of emphasizing that this kind of consciousness is a very new phenomenon that can only have developed and spread in post-modern times, having experienced the catastrophic effects of a fully industrialized world. This statement is being contested in this article. Here, ancient Roman inscriptions on reconstruction works after flood events are carefully studied and the genesis of their rhetoric is traced back. A considerable shift in semantics and rhetoric can be identified as moving from an overtly modernist view in the early principate to a somewhat post-modernist view around the second half of the 2nd century AD. Surprisingly, around the same time a new measure in the management of water-logged landscapes along river banks was established as a new standardized measure in Roman spatial management after a long development phase. Finally, possible reasons for this discursive shift are being examined using geoscientific evidence as well as written and archaeological sources. As a result, an increasing hydrological activity in some parts of the western Mediterranean, political and social unrest together with a contemporary preference for Stoic world views could be related to the paradigm shift in Roman water management by the end of the 2nd century AD.