Thursday, June 8, 2017

Roman Road system portrayed as a subway map

Here's a clever representation of the Roman Road system portrayed in the style of a subway map by Sasha Trubetskoy. It's based on the state of the Roman Empire ca. 125 CE, and he notes:
Creating this required far more research than I had expected—there is not a single consistent source that was particularly good for this. Huge shoutout to: Stanford’s ORBIS model, The Pelagios Project, and the Antonine Itinerary.
That's a great use of those online mapping resources! (You will certainly want to check out both the ORBIS for ancient travel planning and the Pelagios site for a very detailed map.) He had to make a number of compromises, and he did not include sea routes, but it still provides a fun and helpful overview. (The map supplied on the site is quite large, but Trubetskoy can send a more detailed version via a Paypal link.)

I'm mindful of the many limitations that a stylized map like this entails, but as a New Testament scholar, I do have a few quibbles.
  • I'm among those who do not think that the Via Maris referred to the Egypt-Damascus route which is better known as the Great Trunk Road. (Cf. the edits I made to the Via Maris entry on Wikipedia under "Name and Controversy.") Trubetskoy does include a note about the naming in her comments.
  • Technically, Jerusalem was not renamed Aelia Capitolina until 135 CE or so by Hadrian.
  • Pergamum sort of appears on the map as a coastal city though it was ~15 miles / 25 km inland.
  • I believe that Antigonia / Alexandria Troas was an important seaport worth including.
  • I think "Via Cappadociensis" is one of the names he created. At least part of it is what was the ancient Persian Royal Road.
  • No room on the map for Neapolis or Philippi...
  • Thessalonica is displayed quite far inland rather than as a port city.
Again, those are minor quibbles considering the format and limitations of what he intended to accomplish. Quite a fun rendering worth checking out!

HT: Tim Bahula who HTs Open Culture

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