Friday, July 04, 2014

Navigating the Roman Empire

The cursus publicus (the public way) was created by the Roman Emperor Augustus to facilitate transportation and communications between Rome and the provinces of the Roman Empire. It was in effect the courier and transportation service of the Roman Empire, consisting of relay points at forts and stations along the major road systems of the Roman world.

The Tabula Peutingeriana is a road map of the cursus publicus. It shows the road network of the Roman Empire, stationes and the distances between them. The map is geographically distorted and presents the roads between settlements as roughly parallel lines. In some ways the map is similar to many modern subway maps which forgo geographical accuracy in favor of more clearly showing how to get from one station to another.

Omnes Viae: Itinerarium Romanum is an interactive Roman route planner based on the Tabula Peutingeriana road map and the distances shown between towns and stationes.

Using this Google Map you can enter two locations and find the the shortest route between them based on the distance figures of the Peutingeriana.  Routes generated by Omnes Viae list the towns and cites and also the river crossings on your trip in the map sidebar and display the actual route on the Google Map.

ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World is another Roman Empire route planner which generates routes and provides information about the time cost and financial expense associated with different modes of transport.

The model allows for fourteen different modes of road travel (including ox cart, fully loaded mule, foot traveler and army on the march) and also allows for the season of travel. Using the route planner you can enter two locations, the season of travel and the mode of transport. ORBIS will then return a route, the likely price in denarii and the time duration of the journey.

ORBIS also allows you to display the results of a requested route territorially as an isochronal or isophoretric map or distort the geographic representation of the paths and sites using a dynamic distance cartogram.

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