Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Terremare in Ancient Italy

The Roman must have learned something about using the grid to lay out cities from Hippodamus and Greeks, but they also had their own gridded settlements. They had the ancient Bronze Age settlements called the terremare from about 1400 and 800 BC.

The people who dwelt in these villages are thought to have come from the north where they lived in lake –villages. But in Italy, on the the highlands, they created artificial island- villages surrounded with a water-filled moat.

“At Castellazzo di Fontanellato, a little west of Parma, are the vestiges of a settlement which, with its defences, covered an area of about forty-three acres. In outline it was four-sided; its east and west sides were parallel to one another. Round it ran a solid earthen rampart, 50’ (15m) broad at the base and strengthened with woodwork . In front of the rampart was a wet ditch (A), 100’ wide, fed with fresh water from a neighbouring brook by an inlet at the south-western corner (C) and emptied by an outfall on the east (D). One wooden bridge gave access to this artificial island at its southern end (E)".

"The area within the rampart, a little less than thirty acres in extent, was divided into four parts by two main streets, which would have intersected at right angles had the place been strictly rectangular; other narrower streets ran parallel to these main thoroughfares. On the east side (F) was a small 'citadel'—arx or templum—with ditch, rampart and bridge of its own (G, H); in this were a trench and some pits (K) which seemed by their contents to be connected with ritual and religion. Outside the whole (L, M) were two cemeteries, platforms of urns set curiously like the village itself, and also a little burning ghat. The population of the village is reckoned to be four or five thousand, crowded into small huts”.


  • Spiro Kostof, The City Shaped, 1991
  • F. Haverfield, Ancient Town-Planning, 1913, download from Project Gutenberg

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Kyle and Svet Keeton said...

Was that done for protection? Seems like a lot of people in 30 acres. Was the mote a sanitation process also?

Your Post lately are really good.

We need more round cities... :)


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