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The Roman roads

The road-net of Rome in the I century was long about 100. 000 km. divided into 29 roads that were leaving from Rome and after having crossed the Italy, arriving on all the territories of the Empire. The track of the roads were drawn on parchments that were indicating not only the cities that were reached but also gives information about the post stations and the ports for the sea journey. Of these parchments has remained a copy realised in the Middle Ages and it is known like Tabula Peutingeriana; the Tabula (board) is composed by 11 parchments reunited in a strip of cm. 680 x 33 centimetres.

The Roman roads were paved with polygonal blocks long the whole track; the blocks could be of basalt like in the territory of the central Italy or could be of limestone, of granite or of other compact stones in relation to the disposable materials on the territories. The roads had a least width established in 14 feet – metres 4,1 – because this was the minimum width necessary to the simultaneously passage of two charriot; but the roads were wider because as well as the transit of the charriots there was an intense pedestrian traffic that was passing on the land beaten to the sides of the pavement. These pavements were wide 3 metres for side and then the total width of the roads was reaching about 10 metres.

The original motive of the width of the roads was very simple: the great consular roads were built by the engineers of the army to facilitate the moving of the legions where their use was necessary. The Romans were the most valid builders because they had understood that to dominate the world their soldier ability was not enough; their army had to arrive on swift times where it was necessary and then their roads not only were wide the least necessary for the moving of the legions with the baggage and supplies convoy, but they were also the more possible short way for a specific region; the track had to be addressed by a location to another one without worrying of uniting important centres or exceed natural obstacles. The typical example is the peculiar Road Appia of 90 km of lenght, perfectly straight, that was connecting Rome with modern Terracina exceeding the Alabns Hills and crossing the Pontine Marshes or cutting the sides of the hills as made Traianus in 109 A. D. to save 1 mile of Road Appia and to eliminate the 147 metres slope he faced the immense work of the cut of Pisco Montano (you see photo of the cut of Pisco Montano to Terracina). The cut of the cliff of Pisco Montano was an imposing work: over 13. 000 cubic metres of rock they were taken away, for a height 128 feet (= metre. 38) and for a 1000 feet length (= metre. 296). The proof of the efficiency of the Roman road system is found by us also today observing the road net of the Europe, of northern Africa and of the middle-east, where the system has remained unchanged and after a obvious modernization is still used.

by M.L. ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (Ed 1.0 - 01/04/2015)