Glossary

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Roman City Planning terms

Basilica Courthouse or market building.
Capitolium Temple to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.
Civitas Local government, citizenship.
Colonia A colonial city with its territorium.
Curia Senate house.
Forum The center of the Roman city.
Insula “Island;” City block.
Macellum A market building.
Mundus The central point of the planned Roman city.
Municipium A city with Latin rights or Roman citizenship.
Oppidum A (walled) town.
Pomerium The religious boundary around a city.
Quaestor The financial officer of a municipium or colonia.
Territorium The land outside the limits of a Roman city that belonged to the city.

Roman Surveying terms

Actus, plural actus A linear measure of 120 Roman feet. A square actus was equal to 14,400 square Roman feet.
Ager Land.
Ager Arcifinius Unsurveyed land.
Ager Publicus Public land.
Agrimensor A Roman land surveyor.
Cadaster A large scale land survey undertaken for purposes of taxation.
Cardo A limes parallel to the cardo maximus.
Cardo Maximus One of the two principal axes (usually N-S) of a centuriation.
Centuria An area of land equal to 100 heredia.
Centuriation Limitatio, or, the division of land in which limites divide the land into regular squares or rectangles.
Century A square or rectangle of a centuriation often divided into 100 plots of land.
Decumanus A limes parallel to the decumanus maximus.
Decumanus Maximus One of the two principal axes (usually E-W) of a centuriation.
Deductio Foundation of a colony; the formal act of colonization.
Fines Boundary or boundaries.
Forma Map or plan.
Groma The groma was the principal Roman surveying instrument. It was composed of a vertical staff with horizontal cross pieces mounted on a bracket. Each cross piece had a plumb line and plumb bob hanging vertically. Its main use was to survey straight lines, squares, and rectangles.
Heredium An area of land equal to 2 iugera, or 0.504 ha.
Insula Island, a city block.
Iter Roadway, journey.
iter populo non debetur “A public right-of-way does not exist over private land.”
Iugerum Two square actus or 28,800 square Roman feet or .0252 ha.
Limes, Limites A road or track or path that forms a division between neighboring centuries.
Limitatio Centuriation or the division of land by intersecting Limites.
Mensor Measurer.
Mundus Central point of the city.
Per strigas Regular division of land parallel to the long axis of the colony.
Pes Foot. The Roman foot measure is documented in a number of different measures, usually 0.2957 m.
Quintarius A limes at a multiple of 5 centuries from one of the two principal axes of a centuriation.
Rigor Straight line boundary without width.
Subsecivum Unallocated land.
Terminus Boundary mark.
Territorium Land which is under the control of a Roman city.
Tetrans Main intersection.

Modern Surveying terms

Azimuth Angles that are measured clockwise from any reference meridian.
Bearing A system of designating direction of lines by means of an angle and quadrant letters.
EDM A device for measuring distances using an infrared, radio wave or laser source to a remote prism, reflector or solid surface normally integral with an angle measuring device – see also Total Station.
Global Positioning System (GPS) A collection of orbiting satellites transmitting decodable data to ground based receivers for position fixing originally developed for US military use. Differential computations from known based control will allow for more accurate results.
Grid A rectangular pattern of intersecting lines superimposed onto a project drawing to enable plan co-ordinates to be derived. The origin of the grid could be Geographic, National Grid or of Local Assumed Origin. On Local grid an indication of North is usually shown. With the advent of GPS, increasing use will be made of an International standard known as WGS84 as a grid origin especially for trans-frontier projects. A “grid” of levels or spot heights is often required – it is not economic to observe on a rigid set out basis and is usually according to scale and terrain at an average density of spot heights.
Survey Stations A marker established to control a survey, to be given co-ordinates for subsequent setting out or further survey, usually peg, pin in concrete, road nail or ground anchor.
Total Station An instrument capable of measuring and recording, by electronic means, bearing, distance and difference in height to another point – see also EDM.
Traverse A traverse is a series of consecutive lines whose lengths and directions have been determined from field measurements.
Triangulation Point Usually a concrete pillar or high ground having co-ordinates relative to a National Grid and height datum now being largely superseded by Satellite Positioning (GPS) to fewer points but more accessible – also known as geodetic point.
Trigonometrical Levelling Obtaining height differences by vertical angle and distance using a Total Station as opposed to conventional spirit levelling using an automatic Level (or similar) and vertical staff. Not normally used for monitoring or precise levelling but good accuracy may be obtained for other purposes when using modern instrumentation in correct adjustment.