Surveying and planning terms, both Roman and contemporary.

Roman City Planning Terms

Glossary of terms that Romans used to describe city planning elements.

Courthouse or market building
Temple to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva
Cardo, cardines
Primary north-south streets
Land/country of an area
Local government, citizenship
A colonial city with its territorium
Senate house
Primary east-west streets
The center of the Roman city
“Island;” city block
A market building
The central point of the planned Roman city
A city with Latin rights or Roman citizenship
A (walled) town
The religious boundary around a city
Entrance-way or gate
The financial officer of a municipium or colonia
Public covered walkway with shops
An enclosed sacred space
The land outside the limits of a Roman city that belonged to the city
Taxable; refers to a colony's land

Roman Surveying Terms

Glossary of terms that Romans used to describe aspects of land surveying.

Actus, (pl) actus
A linear measure of 120 Roman feet; a square “actus” was equal to 14,400 square Roman feet.
Ager arcifinius
Unsurveyed land
Ager publicus
Public land
A Roman land surveyor
A large scale land survey undertaken for purposes of taxation
Cardo, cardines
A “limes” parallel to the “cardo maximus”
Cardo maximus
One of the two principal axes (usually N-S) of a “centuriation”
An area of land equal to 100 “heredia”
“Limitatio,” or, the division of land in which “limites” divide the land into regular squares or rectangles
A square or rectangle of a centuriation often divided into 100 plots of land
A “limes” parallel to the “decumanus maximus”
Decumanus maximus
One of the two principal axes (usually E-W) of a “centuriation”
Foundation of a colony; the formal act of colonization
Boundary or boundaries
Map or plan
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.
An area of land equal to 2 “iugera,” or 0.504 ha.
Insula, insulae
Island, a city block
Roadway, journey
Iter populo non debetur
“A public right-of-way does not exist over private land.”
Iugerum, iugera
Two square “actus” or 28,800 square Roman feet or .0252 ha.
Lex agraria
Law from 111 B.C.E. that parsed out land for colonists in Corinth
Limes, limites
A road or track or path that forms a division between neighboring centuries
“Centuriation” or the division of land by intersecting “limites”
Central point of the city
Per strigas
Regular division of land parallel to the long axis of the colony
Foot. The Roman foot measure is documented in a number of different measures, usually 0.2957 m.
A “limes” at a multiple of 5 “centuries” from one of the two principal axes of a “centuriation”
Straight line boundary without width
Subsecivum, subseciva
Unallocated land
Boundary mark
Main intersection

Modern Surveying Terms

Glossary of terms that contemporary surveyors use to describe aspects of land surveying.

Angles that are measured clockwise from any reference meridian
A system of designating direction of lines by means of an angle and quadrant letters
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.
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”
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 Global Positioning System (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.


Corinth Project Publications

Romano, D.G. “The Athena Polias Project/The Corinth Computer Project: Computer Mapping and City Planning in the Ancient World.” Academic Computing (1989): 26 ff.

Romano, D.G. Athletics and Mathematics in Archaic Corinth: The Origins of the Greek Stadion. Philadelphia, 1993. View link.

Romano, D.G. “Post-146 B.C. Land Use in Corinth and Planning the Roman Colony of 44 B.C.” in The Corinthia in the Roman Period. Ed. T.E. Gregory, 9-30. Ann Arbor, 1993. View PDF.

Romano, D.G. “Greek Land Division and Planning at Corinth.” American Journal of Archaeology, abstract, 98 (1994): 246.

Romano, D.G. “Roman Centuriation and Land Division in the Corinthia.” American Journal of Archaeology 100 (1996): 346.

Romano, D.G. “The Corinth Computer Project: Reconstructing the City Plan and Landscape of Roman Corinth.” In Archaeological Applications of GIS, Proceedings of Colloquium II, UISPP XIIth Congress, Forli, Italy, September 1996. Eds. I. Johnson and M. North. Sydney, 1997.

Romano, D.G. “GIS Based Analysis of Ancient Land Division in the Corinthia, Greece.” In Cost Action G2, Paysages Antiques Et Structures Rurales, The Use of Geographic Information Systems in the Study of Ancient Landscapes and Features Related to Ancient Land Use. Ed. J. Peterson, 21-30. Brussels, 1998.

Romano, D.G. “A Curved Start for Corinth’s Fifth-century Racecourse.” In Appearance and Essence. Refinements of Classical Architecture: Curvature. Ed. L. Haselberger, 283-288. Philadelphia, 1999.

Romano, D.G. “A Tale of Two Cities: Roman Colonies at Corinth." In Romanization and the City: Creation, Transformations and Failures. Ed. E. Fentress, 83-104. Portsmouth, 2000. View PDF.

Romano, D.G. "Une étude topographique informatisée : centuriations de Corinthe et aménagement du territoire." In Atlas historique des cadastres d'Europe II. Action COST G2. "Payasages anciens et structures rurales." Eds. M. Clavel-Lévêque and A. Orejas, 4T (pgs. 1-10). Luxembourg, 2002.

Romano, D.G. "City Planning, Centuriation and Land Division in Roman Corinth: Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis and Iulia Flavia Augusta Corinthiensis." In Corinth, The Centenary: 1896-1996. Eds. C.K. Williams and N. Bookidis, 279-301. ASCSA, 2003.

Romano, D.G. “Urban and Rural Planning in Roman Corinth.” In Urban Religion in Roman Corinth: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Eds. D.N. Schowalter and S.J. Friesen, 25-59. Cambridge, 2005. View PDF.

Romano, D.G. “A Roman Circus in Corinth.” Hesperia 74 (2005): 585-611. View PDF.

Romano, D.G. “Roman Surveyors in Corinth.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 150 (2006): 62-85. View PDF.

Romano, D.G. "Romanization in the Corinthia: Urban and Rural Developments." In Roman Peloponnese III: Society and Culture Under the Roman Empire: Continuity and Innovation. Eds. A.D. Rizakis and Cl. E. Lepenioti, 155-172. Athens 2010.

Romano, D.G. "Some Considerations of the Land between Corinth and Sikyon during the II and I Centuries B.C." Annuario della Scuola Archeologica di Atene e delle Missioni Italiane in Oriente 99 (2021): 565-576.

Rorres, C., and D.G. Romano. “Finding the Center of a Circular Starting Line in an Ancient Greek Stadium.” SIAM 39 (1997): 745-754. View PDF.

Warden, P.G., and D.G. Romano. "The Course of Glory: Greek Art in a Roman Context at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum." Art History 17 (1994): 228-254. View PDF.

ASCSA Publications on Corinth

Annual excavation reports appear in Hesperia, the Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Final excavation reports are published in a series entitled Corinth, Results of the Excavations Conducted by The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Further information can be found at the ASCSA repository on Corinth.


Romano, D.G., and B.C. Schoenbrun, “A Computerized Architectural and Topographical Survey of Ancient Corinth.” Journal of Field Archaeology 29 (1993): 177-190.

Romano, D.G., and N.L. Stapp. “Piecing Together the City and Territory of Roman Corinth.” Archaeological Computing Newsletter 52 (1998): 1-7.

Romano, D.G., and N.L. Stapp. “Corinth Computer Project: Internet Education.” In Archaeological Informatics: Pushing the Envelope CAA 2001. Ed. G. Burenhult, 295-300. Oxford, 2002. View PDF.

Romano, D.G., and O. Tolba. “Remote Sensing, GIS and Electronic Surveying: Reconstructing the City Plan and Landscape of Roman Corinth.” In Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 1994. Eds. J. Huggett and N. Ryan, 163-174. Oxford, 1995.

Romano, D.G., and O. Tolba. “Remote Sensing and GIS in the Study of Roman Centuriation in the Corinthia, Greece.” In Interfacing the Past: Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 1995. Eds. H. Kammermans and K. Fennema, 457-463. Leiden, 1996.

For Further Reading:

Wiedemann, T. Emperors and Gladiators. London, 1995.


Online resources for further exploring Corinth and Classical Studies.


  • "Decoding the past," Oman Tribune, October 3, 2008.
  • "Perfect Fit," The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 8, 2008.
  • "Roman Corinth: They Came, They Saw, They Digitized," The Pennsylvania Gazette, Sept/Oct 2000.
  • Flying Through the Past, Geospatial Solutions Award, August 2000 Computers and Archaeology
  • "A High-Tech Window Into Ancient Greece," The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 15, 2000.
  • "The Hunt for Orange Julius Caesar," Pennsylvania Current, May 18, 2000.
  • "NetWatch: COOL IMAGES," Science, April 7, 2000.
  • "‘Virtual Dig’ Grants Students Experience without Expense," The Daily Pennsylvanian, March 25, 1997.
  • "Can You Dig It? When Computers are Combined with Archaeology, You Can Conduct a Paleolithic Excavation Right in Your Own Home," The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 17, 1997
  • Cyber U,” The Pennsylvania Gazette, 1995.