Later, laterculus, and testa
Article , Content / 2016-12-02

Opuscula 9 (2016) is now available for purchase and free download at Also available at,, and Later, laterculus, and testa. New perspectives on Latin brick terminology By Henrik Gerding Abstract For centuries antiquarians and archaeologists have tried to reconcile the terminology of ancient writers on architecture, such as Vitruvius, with the perceived realities of the material record. One particular issue of debate concerns the interpretation of different words for “brick” in Latin. In this paper it is argued that earlier attempts to settle this question are unsatisfactory and leave several problems unresolved. A thorough examination of literary and epigraphic sources, combined with new insights in Hellenistic brick usage, suggests that primary distinctions in Latin brick terminology were based on shape and size, rather than on a mere division between fired and unfired bricks. Thus, it is argued that later basically signified a large moulded block, but normally was used to indicate mud bricks; that laterculus changed over time from being a diminutive (a small later) to becoming the standard term for the relatively thin fired bricks of the Roman Imperial period; and that tes­ta originally and primarily signified a fragment of a roof tile (or…

A courtyard gate at Thourioi
Article , Content / 2011-12-02

Opuscula 4 (2011) is now available for purchase and free download at Also available at,,, and A courtyard gate at Thourioi By Henrik Gerding Abstract In the early seventies Paola Zancani Montuoro suggested that a large paved structure, which had recently been uncovered at the site of Sybaris/Thourioi in southern Italy, was the remains of an ancient neosoikos, or shipshed. This idea quickly gained widespread acceptance and is still often repeated, despite some objections having been raised. In this paper it is argued that the structure, which cannot have been a shipshed, was actually a courtyard gate belonging to the Late Classical or Early Hellenistic city wall of Thourioi. Bibliographical information Henrik Gerding, ‘A courtyard gate at Thourioi’, Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome (OpAthRom) 4, 7–18. Stockholm 2011. ISSN: 2000-0898 ISBN: 978-91-977798-3-8. Softcover, 168 pages.

Reconsidering the tomb of Aulus Hirtius
Article , Content / 2008-12-02

Opuscula 1 (2008) is out of print. Available for free download at Used copies might be available at and Reconsidering the tomb of Aulus Hirtius By Henrik Gerding Abstract Since its discovery, the tomb of Aulus Hirtius in Rome has been regarded as a firmly dated monument and, thus, constituted a widely used fixed point for those tracing the early development of Roman brick architecture. However, several peculiarities regarding the construction of the tomb and its inscriptions strongly indicate that the present dating, which is based on historical sources, may not be correct. In this note it is suggested by the author that the original tomb was destroyed and thoroughly remodelled in the early or mid-Augustan period. Some general implications of this regarding the introduction of brick architecture in Rome are also considered. Bibliographical information Henrik Gerding, ‘Reconsidering the tomb of Aulus Hirtius’, Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome (OpAthRom) 1, 145–154. Stockholm 2008. ISSN: 2000-0898. ISBN: 978-91-977798-0-7. Softcover, 198 pages.