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pomerium

(from Latin post-moerium, "behind the wall"), in ancient Rome, a sacred open space located just inside the wall surrounding the four hills-the Esquiline, the Palatine, the Quirinal, and the Capitoline-of the early city. In most Italian walled cities, such spaces, which ran along the complete length of the city walls, were originally left clear to facilitate the maneuvering of defenders in times of attack. This space was later invested with religious significance, being dedicated to the gods in gratitude for their protection, and building and planting upon it remained forbidden. Rome rapidly expanded beyond its pomerium, but the legendary date of its demarcation-April 21-continued to be celebrated as the anniversary of the city's foundation

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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