Archaeomorphology and Agrimensores: problem or opportunity?

Saskia Roselaar


This paper argues that the works of the Agrimensores are of value in studying the practicalities of land measurement in the Roman world. It discusses ways in which the Agrimensores might be used, not only based on a strict literal reading of the texts, but on the practical circumstances in which these works could be used. The paper combines the statements of the Agrimensores with evidence from Roman literary and legal sources and from archaeology. It uses the colony Arausio, modern Orange in southern France, as a case study.
The paper concludes that the works of the Agrimensores was based on real situations, examples of which can be found in the map of Arausio. The Agrimensores therefore attempted to give general instructions based on situations they had encountered in the field. Sometimes these seem overly schematic or abstract, but this matches the style of Roman legal writing. It is true that the works of the Agrimensores have often been misused in scholarly research, but the paper argues that these texts can be of great value when used in combination with archaeological evidence and other legal and technical texts. Thus, these works can be used to gain a better understanding of the practicalities of Roman land measurement.


Agrimensores, Arausio, centuriation, land disputes, incolae.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Saskia Roselaar

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LAC 2014 proceedings - ISBN 978-90-825296-0-9 - is an open access initiative supported by the University Library, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.