agnua, acnua

A unit of land area in Roman times, said to be identical with the actus quadratus (a square 120 pedes on a side), but used in Spain and perhaps having a non-Latin origin.

Actus quadratus, qui et latus est pedes CXX et longus totidem: is modus acnua latine appellatur.

The actus quadratus, which is an area 120 pedes in each direction, is called acnua in Latin.

Marcus Terentius Varro.
On Agriculture, book 1, section 10.2
(1st Century bce)

Actus quadratus undique finitur pedibus CXX. Hoc duplicatum facit iugerum, et ab eo, quod erat iunctum, nomen iugeri usurpavit: sed hunc actum provinciae Baeticae rustici acnuam* vocant: itemque triginta pedum latitudinum et CLXXX longitudinem porcam dicunt.

The actus quadratus on all sides is 120 pedes. Doubled it makes a iugerum, and because it came from joining [iungere, to join], it took the name “iugeri”. The country folk of the province of Baeticae [Roman province in southern Spain, roughly the area of present-day western Andalusia] call this actus an acnua; they call an area 30 pedes wide by 180 pedes long a “porca”.

Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella.
De re rustica. Book 5, 1, 5.
(1st Century ce)

*In some manuscripts, agnuam.

Isidore of Seville, like Columella an inhabitant of Baeticae, repeats Columella's definition (Etym 15.15.5). A modern scholar comments:

The un-Latin agn- spelling attested in Columella is likely to be correct and suggests a Celtic origin, as is also the case with the other land measure arepennis discussed under (d) below. The acn- spelling may be a Latinization, perhaps influenced by actus. The use of agnua in Spain is attested on an inscription from Andalousia CIL 2.2361 siluae agnuarum trecentarum, so it could in fact be true that at least for some periods the word was used by Baetic peasants.

Robert Maltby.
Hispanisms in the Language of Isidore of Seville.
in G.Urso, editor.
Hispania Terris Omnibus Felicior: atti del 2001 convegno internazionale, Cividale del Friuli.
Milan, 2002. Pages 219-234.

CIL is the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, see

Sorry. No information on contributors is available for this page.

home | units index  | search | contact drawing of envelope | contributors | 
help | privacy | terms of use