Saturday, August 10, 2019

Route Planning in the Ancient World

Travelling from London to Rome in the 2nd Century would have taken around 64 days, according to Omnes Viae. Omnes Viae: Itinerarium Romanum is a route planner that lets you navigate the Roman Empire using the roads and shipping lanes available to the ancient Romans.

Omnes Viae is based on an ancient Roman map known as the 'Tabula Peutingeriana' and allows you to plan a route that contains all the main roads and cities of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately Omnes Viae appears to have incurred excessive Google Maps API charges. All the map tiles are now stamped with an ugly 'for development purposes only' message. However the route planner still works and you can still have a lot of fun playing Cesar and planning your Roman military campaigns.

If you want to navigate the early Islamic world then you can use the al-Ṯurayyā Project interactive map. The al-Ṯurayyā Project is a gazetteer and geospatial model of the early Islamic world. The gazetteer includes over 2,000 early Islamic place-names.

The project also includes a path-finding tool which allows you to find routes between any two locations. For example in the early days of Islam it would have taken you around 17 days to travel from Cairo (Fustat) to Damascus (Dimashq). A much longer journey would be from Morocco to India. According to the al-Ṯurayyā Project a journey from Morocco to India would have taken you around 260 days (or around 8 and half months).

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