author={Giulio Magli},
  journal={Oxford Journal of Archaeology},
  • G. Magli
  • Published 23 March 2007
  • History
  • Oxford Journal of Archaeology
Summary.  Several Roman writers report on the existence of a town foundation ritual, inherited from the Etruscans, which allegedly included astronomical references. However, the possible existence of astronomical orientations in the layout of Roman towns has never been considered in a systematic way. As a first step in this direction, the orientation of 38 Roman towns in Italy is studied here. Non-random orientation patterns emerge from these data, calling for further research in this field. 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Establishing a New Order: The Orientation of Roman Towns Built in the Age of Augustus
Urbanism in most areas of Western Europe occurred at the time of the Roman Empire when several hundred new towns were founded, notably under Augustus. Those towns were planned to incorporate
What the Latin Literature Truly Tells Us About the Orientation of Camps, Towns and Centuriation
Here we are proposing a presentation and translation of some parts of the work by J. Le Gall on the solar orientation of the Roman camps, towns and centuriation. Le Gall is giving us a detailed
A New Look at Old Temples
The findings suggest that alignments with the star cluster of the Pleiades and the constellation Orion constituted a connective element between earth and sky and were used by the Gallo-Roman elites to reconcile agricultural work and seasonal festivities with new socio-political and religious requirements.
The orientation of Roman towns in Hispania: preliminary results
This work has been financed within the framework of the projects 3E3409 Arqueoastronomia y Astronomia en la Cultura de los Pueblos de la Antiguedad of the IAC, and Orientatio ad sidera III
The astronomical orientation of the urban plan of Alexandria
Alexander the Great founded Alexandria in 331 BC. The newly founded town was conceived as an orthogonal grid based on a main longitudinal axis, later called Canopic Road. We analyse here the
Colonnaded streets within the Roman cityscape: a “spatial” perspective
AbstractStudies tackling the Roman legacy of colonial cities and Arabian provinces are still grappling with these cities from an urban planning perspective and/or building typologies. They do not
The present paper studies the orientation of 32 churches in Thessalonike, that date from the 4 th to the 20 th century. It investigates whether there is a connection of their astronomical alignment
Two Roman Towns in Germany Having a Solstitial Orientation of Their Urban Planning
Here we discuss the orientation of the urban planning of two Roman towns in Germany, Kastell Kesselstadt and Mogontiacum, the Roman Mainz. As all the Roman military camps and coloniae, these towns
The Walled Town of Alife and the Solstices
Here we consider an astronomical orientation of the walled town of Alife, in Campania. This town has maintained its Roman original layout and the walls of that period. We will show, by means of
Bononia, the Roman Bologna: Archaeoastronomy and Chronology
In an article written by Giulio Magli on the orientation of the Roman towns, Bononia, the Roman Bologna, is given as a specific example to support Magli’s thesis on the existence of preferred solar


Summary.  An article on the orientation of Roman camps and forts, published in this journal, based its conclusions on faulty statistical analysis. Its only verifiable claim is that the surveyors of
Summary.  The angles of orientation of 67 Roman camps were determined from their published plans. There was a marked tendency for them to be aligned close to the cardinal points but they were offset
The Roman Survey of Britain
Did the Romans survey the lands that they conquered? This study puts forward evidence in support of the idea that geometric patterns can be discerned in the angles of road alignments and the position
The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World
Roman towns and their history are generally regarded as being the preserve of the archaeologist or the economic historian. In this famous, unusual and radical book which touches on such disparate
Orthogonal Town Planning in Antiquity
The decisiveness of the right angle, which is uncommon in nature, would seem to exercise an irresistible appeal to the human mind, for it permeates man's art, artifacts, and architecture. That it
Non-Orthogonal Features in the Planning of Four Ancient Towns of Central Italy
Abstract.Several ancient towns of central Italy are characterized by imposing circuits of walls constructed with the so-called polygonal or “cyclopean” megalithic technique. The date of foundation of
Orientation and Etruscan ritual
The cosmology of the Etruscans, like so much else Etruscan, hovers on the edge of historical visibility. By exploring Etruscan temple alignments measured in situ and with the helpful context of the
The Acropolis of Alatri: Architecture and Astronomy
Abstract.The astronomical alignments of the Acropolis of Alatri, Italy, are investigated. The results strongly support a dating of the magnificent polygonal walls of the site to a pre-Roman period.
Roman Building: Materials and Techniques
Now in paperback, Roman Buildings is a thorough and systematic examination of Roman architecture and building practice, with over 750 illustrations . It looks at large- scale public buildings as well
Les Romains et l'orientation solaire
Joel Le Gall, Les Romains et l'orientation solaire, pp. 287-320. ; ; L'idee que les Romains orientaient systematiquement leurs camps militaires, leurs villes neuves et leurs centuriations d'apres la