Juan Antonio Belmonte (author)
An essential difference between the western and eastern provinces of the Roman Empire is the fact thatsophisticated urban cultures had developed in Asia Minor and the Levant centuries before the Romansarrived. Underlying the Hellenized, and later Roman, veneer was a myriad of older local traditions andlanguages, which had an immense impact upon Roman religious tradition through elements such as theintroduction of new religious practices. Following the path of previous studies, in this article we try todiscern how Roman culture was inherited and adapted to the heterogeneous Eastern traditions and how itcould be reflected in the architecture and urban layout, mainly in what concerns to the orientation of theurban structures. Considering ancient writings, such as those of Higynius Gromaticus (Constitutio, I), theorientation of these features could follow the position of certain celestial bodies, mainly the sun, whichwould imply a careful observation of the sky. Developing the lines of previous studies on the orientation ofRoman settlements in the western part of the Empire (González-García et al., 2014 & Rodríguez-Antón et al.,2016), a number of Roman cities and military settlements in modern-day Jordan, Syria and Palestine areanalysed here. Through this approach, we try to obtain a first insight into whether their orientations lookedtowards astronomical positions and wether there existed common patterns comparing with those sitespreviously measured in Hispania or Britannia. This would help us to obtain a wider vision of Roman ritualpractices, cosmovisions and how Roman culture could have evolved, spread and became assimilatedthrough lands and time.
Orientation of Roman settlements. Roman urbanism. Ancient Jordan. Eastern Roman Empire. Limes Arabicus. Decapolis.