Juan Antonio Belmonte (author)
At the time of establishing a new settlement, Romans performed a number of rituals in order tochoose the right place and orientation. These rituals were also present in military settlements where,despite the practical mentality, the role of religion was relevant (Andrés Hurtado, 2002). Althoughsome ancient scholars such as Hyginus Gromaticus mentioned the necessity to orientate the townsaccording to the path of the sun, others as Vegetius indicated that the chief determinants of camporientation were the direction of the march or the enemy position, in which case any preferredorientation would appear (null hypothesis). Alan Richardson (2005) presented a number of orientationsmeasured by a protractor on small-scale published plans of Roman military camps and forts in Britainand elsewhere and proposed that, since some angles are more common than others, the null hypothesisshould be rejected. However, the use of statistics done by Richardson is not accepted by some authorssuch as Peterson (Peterson 2007, 103-107), who thinks that the Xi-squared test is not correctly used andleads to wrong conclusions, and Salt (http://alunsalt.com/2007/02/17/vidi-7/), who proposes the use ofa binomial distribution test and considers it a simpler method which works well with small samples.In this talk, we will discuss the results of our analysis of Richardson's data. We have analyzed 93Roman camps in Britain. We have complemented the data acquisition by estimating the angular heightsin the horizon at each site by using a reconstruction of the horizon given by a Digital Terrain Model(http://www.heywhatsthat.com/), thus also considering the local topography. We have applied adifferent statistical method where we compare between our results and a set of homogeneousdistributions. Besides, a preliminary result of a diachronic study of the camps and forts will bepresented. We tend to confirm Richardson?s thesis as a random distribution of the orientations could bediscarded. In fact, there are some concentrations around certain angles, which correspond to sunriseand sunset positions in particular dates during the Roman warfare season, even if we make a distinctionbetween camps at the north and south of the Hadrian?s Wall, the main frontier of the Roman Empire inBritannia. These results apparently show that a solar orientation custom was presumably followed atthe time of laying out a camp, and that some dates would be preferred, as has been found in previousworks on the Roman world (see e.g. González-García, Rodríguez-Antón, Belmonte 2014; Magli 2008).