New Acquisition: the first printed edition of Corpus agrimensorum Romanorum (1554)
The summer is a busy time of year for new acquisitions here at St Andrews. As our fiscal year winds down and extra money is found and needed to be spent, some items on our wish-lists can be ticked off. We’ll be highlighting some of our newest purchases and gifts in the next few months, and hope that these items get the attention and use they deserve!
The Rare Book Collection recently added the first edition of Corpus agrimensorum Romanorum to its shelves. The text is one of the few surviving works collecting surveying techniques of the Roman gromatics. It survives in one 5th or 6th century illuminated manuscript, held at the Herzog August Bibliothek (Wolfenbüttel). This 16th century printing, the first of this collected work, was edited by Pierre Galland and Adrien Turnèbe (also the printer), and contains tracts by Siculus Flaccus, Frontinus, Sextus Julius, Aggenus Urbicus and Hyginus, Gromaticus.
The work is illustrated throughout with 134 individual woodcuts depicting boundary stones, properties, cities, roads, rivers and swamps. They show areas to be surveyed from a bird’s-eye view on which elements such as mountains or buildings or rivers are shown receding into space. This type of perspective drawing is called scaenographia or “scene drawing” by Vitruvius used varying viewpoints to depict accurate scale.
This book is a lovely new addition to our early print collections, and will provide a useful resource for students and researchers working in classics, archaeology, history and physics. Many thanks to Roger Gaskell Rare Books, and his wonderful catalogue 47, for making this item available!