Jugerum

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The jugerum or juger (Latin: iūgerum, iūgera, iūger, or iugus)[a] was a Roman unit of area, equivalent to a rectangle 240 Roman feet in length and 120 feet in width (about 71×35½ m). This comprised 28,800 square feet (Latin: pedes quadratum)[1] or about ¼ hectare (0.623 acres).

Name[edit]

It was the double of the square actus, and from this circumstance, according to some writers, it derived its name.[2] It seems probable that, as the word was evidently originally the same as iugum, a yoke, and as actus, in its original use, meant a path wide enough to drive a single beast along, that iugerum originally meant a path wide enough for a yoke of oxen, namely, the double of the actus in width; and that when actus quadratus was used for a square measure of surface, the iugerum, by a natural analogy, became the double of the actus quadratus; and that this new meaning of it superseded its old use as the double of the single actus.

Pliny the Elder states:

"That portion of land used to be known as a ‘jugerum,’ which was capable of being ploughed by a single ‘jugum,’ or yoke of oxen, in one day; an ‘actus’ being as much as the oxen could plough at a single spell, fairly estimated, without stopping. This last was one hundred and twenty feet in length; and two in length made a jugerum."[3]

The uncial division as was applied to the iugerum, its smallest part being the scrupulum of 100 sq ft or 9.2 m². Thus, the iugerum contained 288 scrupula (Varro, R. R. l.c.). The iugerum was the common measure of land among the Romans. Two iugera formed an heredium, a hundred heredia a centuria, and four centuriae a saltus. These divisions were derived from the original assignment of landed property, in which two iugera were given to each citizen as heritable property.[4]

Columella states:

"The square actus is bounded by 120 feet each way: when doubled it forms a iugerum, and it has derived the name iugerum from the fact that it was formed by joining."[5]

In Gaul, half of a jugerum was called an arepennis, the origin of the later French unit of area, the arpent.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The form iugus as a neuter noun[dubious ] of the third declension is very common in the oblique cases and in the plural.[citation needed]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Colum. R. R. v.i § 6; Quintil. i.18.
  2. ^ Varro, L. L. v.35. Müller, R. R. i.10. [Actus.]
  3. ^ Pliny the Elder: The Natural History (Book XVIII. Chapter 3). Translated by John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S. H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A. London. Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street. 1855.
  4. ^ Varro, l.c.; Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, vol. II, pp. 156– and Appendix II.
  5. ^ Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella: On Agriculture (De Re Rustica, Book V). Translated by Forster and Heffner. Heinemann London MCMLIV.

Bibliography[edit]