Roman Roads (Drawn Like The London Subway)

Roman Roads by Sasha Trubetskoy.

See Trubetskoy’s website for a much better rendering of this map of Roman roads, drawn in subway-style.

From the post:

It’s finally done. A subway-style diagram of the major Roman roads, based on the Empire of ca. 125 AD.

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 (found a full PDF online but lost the url).

The lines are a combination of actual, named roads (like the Via Appia or Via Militaris) as well as roads that do not have a known historic name (in which case I creatively invented some names). Skip to the “Creative liberties taken” section for specifics.

How long would it actually take to travel this network? That depends a lot on what method of transport you are using, which depends on how much money you have. Another big factor is the season – each time of year poses its own challenges. In the summer, it would take you about two months to walk on foot from Rome to Byzantium. If you had a horse, it would only take you a month.

However, no sane Roman would use only roads where sea travel is available. Sailing was much cheaper and faster – a combination of horse and sailboat would get you from Rome to Byzantium in about 25 days, Rome to Carthage in 4-5 days. Check out ORBIS if you want to play around with a “Google Maps” for Ancient Rome. I decided not to include maritime routes on the map for simplicity’s sake.

Subway-style drawing lose details but make relationships between routes clearer. Or at least that is one of the arguments in their favor.

Thoughts on a subway-style drawing that captures the development of the Roman road system? To illustrate how that corresponds in broad strokes to the expansion of Rome?

Be sure to visit Trubetskoy’s homepage. Lot’s of interesting maps and projects.

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