Imprinted with the Roman 'spatial signature', the Aquileian countryside provides an unparalleled opportunity to expand our current understanding and perception of the origins and advances of landscape engineering and its efforts to build sustainable responses to long-term environmental and socio-economic pressures.
Ninth in importance among the cities of the Roman Empire according to ancient sources (Ausonius), Aquileia was one of the largest and its hinterland one of the broadest areas in Roman Italy to be centuriated up to the first part of the 2nd century BC, exposing novel theoretical and practical issues.
Aquileia is an exception in the European panorama as it was scarcely touched by massive 20th century urbanisation and archaeological prospection can be carried out from the immediate edge of the urban perimeter into a large surrounding area.
It is, therefore, outstanding in retaining a relatively intact Roman peripheral landscape around a city of exceptional size in antiquity.
While patches of the modern Aquileian landscape still preserve the imprint of the distinctive spatial signature imposed by the Romans, in other areas the centuriation elements are no longer easily identifiable or irrefutably attributable to Roman intervention.
Within this volatile grid, the forms, structure and nature of the settlement are still mostly unknown.