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Non-Orthogonal Features in the Planning of Four Ancient Towns of Central Italy

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Part of the Nexus Network Journal book series (NNJ, volume 9,1)

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 these cities is highly uncertain; indeed, although they all became Roman colonies in the early Republican centuries (between the fifth and third centuries B.C.) their first occupation predates the Roman conquest. It is the aim of the present paper to show — using four case-studies — that these towns still show clear traces of an archaic, probably pre-Roman urbanistic design, which was not based on the orthogonal “rule”, i.e., the town-planning rule followed by the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans. Rather, the layouts appear to have been originally planned on the basis of a triangular, or even star-like, geometry, which therefore has a center of symmetry and leads to radial, rather than orthogonal, organization of the urban space. Interestingly enough, hints — so far unexplained — pointing to this kind of town planning are present in the works by ancient writers as important as Plato and Aristophanes, as well as in the comment to the Æneid by Marius Servius.

Keywords

orthogonal town planning polygonal walls 

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Copyright information

© Kim Williams Books, Turin 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di MatematicaPolitecnico di MilanoMilanoItaly

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