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The Latin name for land-surveyors, otherwise called gromatici, from groma, their measuring instrument. This consisted of two dioptric rods crossing each other at right angles and fastened on an iron stand so as to turn horizontally; on the four arms stood four upright dioptrae, with threads stretched across the holes, and in taking observations the threads of two opposite dioptrae had to cover each other. The measuring was done on the same principle as the marking-out of a templum by the Augurs (q.v.), viz. by drawing in the centre of the piece of land two lines intersecting at right angles, one from north to south (cardo maximus), the other from east to west (decumanus maximus); the further division of the ground was effected by parallels to these lines (limites). It was not until the imperial period that land-surveying became a separate profession. Then surveyors were prepared in special schools and appointed by the State, both for quarter-master's duty in camp and for measurements under Government; they decided as judges in fixing boundaries, and were consulted as specialists in disputes affecting land. Thus a literature arose, half mathematical, half legal, the remains of which extend over the first six centuries A.D. The earliest of these gromatici, or writers on land-measurement, is Frontinus (q.v.), from whose work, written from 81-96 A.D. and dealing more with the legal side of the subject, extracts are preserved in the commentary of Aggenus Urbicus. Hyginus, Balbus, and probably Siculus Flaccus, flourished in the time of Trajan; later still, Nipsus, Innocentius, and Aggenus.
Type: Standard
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