Roman Structures > Roman Roads

Roman Roads

Background

The development of the complex network of ancient roads was one of the greatest achievements of the Roman Empire. They allowed the Romans to link the far flung provinces and settlements with the umbilicus mundi or naval of the empire located in the capital of Rome and enhanced communication, transportation, military hegemony, cultural diffusion and trade with exotic lands. Like tentacles from an octopus the Roman roads spread out across Europe, Africa and the Near East and linked the Roman Empire with much of the ancient world including the Red Sea, the Silk Road, China, India and much more.

Pax Romana

See Pax Romana

Ancient Roman roads linked famous settlements, monuments and structures and were very intricate, often with some roads being carved directly into the sides of hills to easily traverse rocky terrain. All of this allowed for the diffusion of personal mail, technologies, trade goods, ideologies and more that greatly characterized both the Hellenistic and Roman eras as a whole. Despite hosting many civilian travelers and merchants from all cultures and ethnicities the Roman roads were also instrumental in helping maintain imperial political, economic and military supremacy.

Trade Networks

See Trade Networks

One of the biggest benefits of the Roman road system was the connection of the Roman Empire to global trade networks that existed during antiquity and helped Rome become a rich and prosperous civilization. These trade networks enabled the massive exchange of trade goods throughout the ancient world spanning from the Silk Road in China through India and into Africa, Europe and more. Through the use of roads and the settlements that cropped up around them ancient travelers could travel much safer than before where they were prey to highwaymen and other brigands.

Military Supremacy

One of the other great benefits of the Roman road system was the easy with which it allowed military transport across the empire. Prior to this massive standing armies would be forced to march across unforgiving terrain in order to conquer territories or quash rebellions. However, with the new roads this allowed for the fast and efficient movement of the Roman legions throughout the empire which greatly aided in conquest and the maintaining of the far flung borders that often brought the Romans directly into contact with many hostile tribes and nations.

Roman Bridges

See Roman Bridges

One of the other great technological achievements of the Romans was their concrete bridges which were simply an extension of the road network. The Roman bridges allowed the road network to traverse rivers and geography that was previously impassable or inconvenient and some of these bridges including the two over the River Aksu near ancient Eurymedon span considerable distances over treacherous gorges.

Overall Roman bridges and roads represented some of the greatest technological achievements in classical antiquity and paved the way for massive cultural diffusion, trade, through easy transportation and communication. In addition the roads allowed Roman military units to quickly move throughout the Empire to conquer new lands or subdue rebellious provinces more quickly and efficiently than in the past.

Roman Roads

Roman Bridges List

Roman Roads

Roman Bridges List

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources