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3 June, 2017

Roman Roads

If you think this would make a cool poster, you can get a high-res, print-worthy PDF for $9!    

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.

Creative liberties taken

The biggest creative element was choosing which roads and cities to include, and which to exclude. There is no way I could include every Roman road, these are only the main ones. I tried to include cities with larger populations, or cities that were provincial capitals around the 2nd century.

Obviously to travel from Petra to Gaza you would take a more or less direct road, rather than going to Damascus and “transferring” to the Via Maris. The way we travel on roads is very different from rail, which is a slight flaw in the concept of the map. But I think it’s still aesthetically pleasing and informative.

Here’s a list of the roads that have authentic names and paths:

  • Via Appia
  • Via Augusta
  • Via Aurelia
  • Via Delapidata
  • Via Domitia
  • Via Egnatia
  • Via Flaminia
  • Via Flavia (I, II, III)
  • Via Julia Augusta
  • Via Lusitanorum
  • Via Militaris
  • Via Popilia
  • Via Portumia
  • Via Salaria
  • Via Tiburtina
  • Via Traiana
  • Via Traiana Nova

Some roads have real names but were modified somewhat:

  • The Via Latina I combined with the Via Popilia. In reality the Popilia ended at Capua, and the Latina went from Capua to Rome.
  • Via Aquitania only referred to the road from Burdigala (Bordeaux) to Narbo (Narbonne).
  • Via Asturica Burdigalam similarly only refers to the Astrurica-Burdigala section.
  • “Via Claudia” is not a real name, but refers to a real continuous road built by Claudius.
  • Via Hadriana was a real road in Egypt, but it refers to a slightly different section than the green route.
  • The name “Via Maris” is considered to be a modern creation, referring to real ancient trade road whose real name has been lost to history.
  • Via Valeria only referred to a section of the yellow Sicilian loop.
  • The roads around Pisae, Luna and Genua had several names for different sections, including Via Aemilia Scauri. Sometimes “Via Aurelia” referred to the entire road from Rome to Arelate.
  • Via Sucinaria is the Latin name for the Amber Road, a trade route from the Baltic region to Italy that carried amber as a valuable good. It probably was not used to refer to a single literal road.
  • Via Gemina and Via Claudia Augusta are real names that referred to small parts of the routes marked on the map.

The other roads have relatively uncreative names that I invented, usually based on a place that they pass through. I have never formally studied Latin and I’ll admit that I am somewhat confused by the distinction between -a and -ensis endings, so there’s a chance I may have messed that up.

Update

I got numerous comments following the release of my Roman roads map. Acting by the mantra of “OP delivers”, I decided to take this feedback into account and create an updated version of the map. The new map is featured here, and I have also replaced the map in the original post with the new version.

Several changes were made:

  • The typo in Gesoriacum is fixed.
  • The Via Agrippa is now properly named. For some reason I had typed Via Flavia by mistake.
  • Via Flavia now refers to the road along the Dalmatian coast, in reference to the actual Via Flavia in what is now Croatia.
  • I have included Berytus, present-day Beirut, in the map. It was the capital of Roman Phoenicia and one of the most important cities in the Eastern Mediterranean at the time.
  • The town of Vindonissa has been added. It was a prominent fort in what is now Switzerland.
  • The road in Sardinia now goes from Caralis to Tarrae. This was (and still is) the most prominent land linkage on the island.
  • Road names ending in -ensis have been changed to more classical names:
    • Via Sarda now uses the proper Latin adjective for the island.
    • ViaAugusta Nova is named after the emperor who established the proconsular government in Asia.
  • Other geographically-named roads have had name changes:
    • Via Domitiana is named after Domitian, who conquered Moesia.
    • Via Tiberia in Cappadocia is named after Tiberius, who established the province.
  • The British Isles are now displayed in full, and the British road network has been expanded a tiny bit.
  • Lucus (Lugo) is now moved inland, and the road from Bracara Augusta to Asturica has been separated.

Version in Chinese – 中文版

Chinese translations courtesy of Stone Chen.

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212 Comments on "Roman Roads"

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Stuart
Guest

Almost totally disrelated Sasha, but a friend of mine has made a map of existing and planned rail lines for South East Asia – link at
http://www.nomadicnotes.com/

Just ‘another professional job’ from amateur mapmakers –

All the best from Thailand,
Stuart.

Menahem Larionov
Guest

Hi where is Way of the Patriarchs from Hebron to Jerusalem ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Way_of_the_Patriarchs

Pyers
Guest

Harry Beck would have been most impressed 🙂

Silvio
Guest

It seems pretty complete. I would say Vindonissa, a major troop deployment hub is missing. Information is a little scarce online.From 110AD it may have held a civil status (civil government). It had stone fortifications and wall (which means it was absolute key) and later an added castle. Estimated troops encamped there were on average 10,000+ (of which 6,000 preparing for deployment) with a local amphitheater, aquaduct, thermal baths, cavalry stables, etc.

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[…] Romano a mediados del segundo siglo de nuestra era, quizá su punto culminante. Y ahora hablamos de Roman Roads, un proyecto realizado por Sasha Trubetskoy y publicado el pasado 3 de junio en el que se […]

Karin Welss
Guest

Sasha, this map is awesome! I’m currently writing a novel set in the Roman Empire ca AD 192, and this was very handy in figuring out travel routes. Great job, and thank you for sharing this!

Carla
Guest

Wonderful artwork!

Carla
Guest

How about making a game out of it?

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[…] [Image Source: Sasha Trubetskoy] […]

Habib Battah
Guest

Cool idea! But why not include Berytus (Beirut), one of the empire’s most important cities and one of a handful to contain a law school. Or Heliopolis (Baalbeck), site of one of the largest temples in the empire?

Pablo
Guest

Hello, wonderfull poster, im a great fan of the empire, i pay $9 from paypal but i no recive the poster, my transaction numer is 57586723P1081145N, check it, thank you!

Ofek Birnholtz
Guest

Hi,
In 125ADA Jerusalem was still called Jerusalem…

Luca
Guest

Via Julia Augusta originally started from Aquileia and went towards Carnuntum (Pannoniae), instead it was wrongly identified to some way toward Gallia Narbonensis.

Martin
Guest

I’m a Teacher of Latin and History and want to congratulate you on that wonderful piece of artwork! I use it in every of my lessons!

Thanks for Sharing

Martin

Vincent Fava
Guest

This will make a great addition to my map room! Thank you for putting in the work, it really shows.
I have sent you the money via PayPal and await the PDF. Is there a poster size that suits this file best?

Haus
Guest

The pdf scales nicely to 40″ x 30″

Mike Whitty
Guest

Excellent work, I have contributed to your cause.

Next edition, consider adding a “ferry” connection between Brundisium and Phoenice, like you have at the Straits of Dover and Gibraltar.

Haus
Guest

There is a nice little bridge now from near Patrae north. You don’t have to take the subway all the way around anymore. : )

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[…] can see the map in a bit more detail on his website, and if you donate a few bucks he’ll send you a hi-res PDF fit for printing. (via […]

Vanessa FitzGerald
Guest

I’ve paid my $9 via PayPal but haven’t received my PDF 😢

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[…] Sasha Trubetskoyという人がつくって公表ている。 くわしくはこちらを↓ Roman Roads […]

Alessandro Giust
Guest

Goodmorning, why Via Emilia is not in the listo the roads that have authentic names and paths: ?
Via Emilia does not end in Piacenza but it ends in Milano , the first part of this roman road Rimini – Piacenza is since 187bC but Piacenza – Milano is just since the following century it is still now and should be always Piacenza – Milano SS9 via Emilia.

Petros Josephides
Guest
Dear Sasha great work. However, If I may make an addition that might up great your great work. Paphos which was capital of Cyprus had established routes with Alexandria, Tyre and Greece. Your map almost dismisses Cyprus which for Romans back then was a senatorial province worth mentioned on its own. Augustus appointed ten consular governments in Europe and in the adjacent islands. The ninth is CYPRUS. STRABO geography also mentions it on its own merit. Strabo, book 17.3.25 http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0239%3Abook%3D17%3Achapter%3D3%3Asection%3D25 Hope it helps. Its like mapping the London Tube map and skipping Docklands Light Railway (DLR) ( not the most… Read more »
Kathleen Ralf
Guest

Thanks Sasha for sharing this with us. My middle school history teachers and I are excited to make posters of your wonderful map. The ancient world comes alive here and it even pinpoints our location on the Limes.

Amir
Guest

Great work. A perfect gift for the right person. Any chance I can pay you in some way other than Paypal? A check? Google Wallet?

Louis E.
Guest

OK,the plan is in gear.
Now when do you hop on board the time machine and convince Emperor Hadrian to fund the conversion of his road system to subways?

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[…] much research, University of Chicago sophomore Sasha Trubetskoy has completed a subway-style map of the road system of the Roman Empire. From about 300 BC, the Romans built or improved over 250,000 miles of roads (50,000 miles were […]

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[…] much research, University of Chicago sophomore Sasha Trubetskoy has completed a subway-style map of the road system of the Roman Empire. From about 300 BC, the Romans built or improved over 250,000 miles of roads (50,000 miles were […]

soph
Guest

Hi, very nice map!
I found a typo while going through the various northern routes and not being able to find one city. Boulogne-sur-mer was Gesoriacum, in your map the i is misplaced.

adrian tuite
Guest

A marvellous idea, well executed. The world (the Roman World at least) is your lobster (English joke). I suggest that it may be developed by a series of local “viarum majarum” within the Empire. I expect that the Latin is execrable but you clearly have the interest and application to do this. Power to your elbow. A. T.

Jack Holloway
Guest

This was a very creative idea, but one really needs to be up on their geography to truly appreciate how great a job this really was. WELL DONE!

Miguel A. Aguerrea
Guest

I’ve paid my $9 via PayPal but haven’t received my PDF. I’ve already checked the spam folder.
The payment was made on Sat, 10 Jun 2017 00:27:20 +0200 (CEST) from the account m…[email protected]…a-d..l.com
In case there is any problem with my account in this comment I will put my gmail account.

I want to print it on authentic papyrus for my brother (http://vasconum.blogspot.com.es).

Kent Boyer
Guest

This may be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. THANK YOU!

Paolo Valenti
Guest

Hi Sasha. I didn´t receive the PDF with the map. Please let me know!

Project Mapping
Guest

I can put a hi-rez version on http://www.projectmapping.co.uk (the world’s largest portal of schematic maps) if you email a pdf

Ivan Dalmonte
Guest

Hello, I’m having fun in pairing all the old Latin names in your beautiful map with their current names. Using the Internet it’s not difficult. But I can’t find anything about “Premis”, a town you have placed somewhere between the current Egypt and Sudan. The name is very similar to the Italian word “Premio” (prize), so all the links lead to wrong destinations. Can you tell me what is the correct place? Thank you!

Betsy
Guest

Thank you for this amazing resource. With all shortcomings described, it’s still great, and I am planning my next vacation to follow a couple of these routes! Where can I get a transit card 🙂

Anne
Guest

This map is fantastic! I miss “Bonna” near Col. Agrippina on the map.

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[…] Sasha Trubetskoy is een student statistiek aan de Universiteit van Chicago met een passie voor geografie. Na een wekenlange research is Trubetskoy aan de slag gegaan met het in kaart brengen van de belangrijkste wegen uit het Romeinse Rijk. Hij koos daarvoor het jaar 125, toen het Romeinse wegennetwerk op zijn hoogtepunt was. Om de kaart overzichtelijk te houden, bedacht hij een bijzondere opmaak: die van een metrokaart. Op deze manier is het voor de kijker makkelijk om de lijnen te volgen en de belangrijkste knooppunten en steden halverwege te bekijken. Meer info op de blog van Sasha Trubetskoy.… Read more »
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[…] Trubetskoy always makes great maps, like this cool imagining of the Roman Empire road system in the style of a public transit system. […]

Thomas
Guest

I’d be really interested in getting this printed & maybe go snag a frame from Ikea & put this on my wall. I would want the background black instead of white though. I can edit it myself but I’d have to take out all the “station” names/grey text (the road names would look great w/ the white letters on black though). Is there any chance you could put out an alternate with a black background?

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[…] Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose Dickson – All the World’s Earthquakes Alan – Map of Roman roads Vincent – Brain atlas of fly […]

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[…] Sasha Trubetskoy, estudiante de la Universidad de Chicago, ha redefinido el aspecto que tendría el mapa del antiguo Imperio Romano si, en lugar de calzadas, las vías de comunicación del imperio fueran líneas de Metro conectadas entre sí. […]

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[…] © Roman Roads | Sasha Trubetskoy […]

Mark
Guest

This is absolutely fascinating and has come to me by a very roundabout route!

Interesting to see that east of Gaza there is very little. Of course, it’s a region that the Romans influenced, but never really dominated, although places like Armenia did become parts of the Roman Empire and I see that you do have a future road to Artaxata in Armenia via Arsamosata (which a stub in Wikipedia claims was abandoned in the 1st Century BC).

Was there really so little out to the east?

jerome
Guest

Hi, i sent you a payement via paypal but i did’nt receive any pdf… Can you check your paypal account and send me the pdf please?

Deena Berg
Guest

This is VERY cool, and the number of comments, despite the pedants, is in an indication of just how cool. I worked on sites on the ancient Via Gabina, the road that lead westward out of Rome to the Etruscan town of Gabii; not sure if it continued with that name, or was subsumed under another road. Would also make a cool t-shirt. You might consider Cafe Press for other Latinophile gifts.

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[…] Roman Roads – Beautiful poster of the major Roman thoroughfares of circa 125 AD done in the style of a tube map. […]

Jeff
Guest

Hi Sasha,

Today I made a payement via PayPal. I can hardly wait to receive a vector-based file (pdf or ai). Your map is just awesome, it leaves me speechless.

Jeff
Guest

Thank you Sasha for the quick delivery of the file.
Received it in good order.
Regards

Sebastianus
Guest

Dear Sasha,

We love the map, as we have travelled in real life a big piece of the empire already during our holidays.
2 questions: why did you include the seaway between crete and greece? It suggests a bridge or tunnel…

Why did you give the connection Lugdunum-Vienna the same kind of statio symbol as Gesoriacum-Dubris?

Also, the via egnatia and valeria are not interrupted by the sea at Byzantium…should perhaps have same symbol as gesoriacum-dubris, marking a crossing?

Thanks for reply and all best,

Greetings from Forum Hadriani, at the Lower german border: nowadays Voorburg in Holland.