A Subway Map of Ancient Rome : Visualizing Past + Present
An Empire of Subway Stops:
Have you ever wondered what the Roman Empire might look like as a subway map? Well, wonder no further! Cartographer and statistics major Sasha Trubetskoy combined archives of trade records, maps and journals to compose a diagram of major Roman Roads circa 125 A.D.
You can imagine an orator of ancient Rome announcing the next “subway stop”. I don’t know the latin word for “LOCAL” vs. “EXPRESS” but mixing up the two could be the difference between a weekend journey or a lifelong odyssey. If you fall asleep on the Via Popilia Green Line you might wake up in Regium... Man, I really do hate when that happens.
Trubetskoy’s subway diagram is the latest interpretation within a long legacy of Rome-mapping. This curious practice has been most famously captured by a 13th century monk living in Colmar, France.
Back in 1265 A.D, the “Tabula Peutingeriana” or Peutinger Table was drawn into existence. The massive map of ancient Rome was drawn on eleven sheets of parchment measuring 13 ⅓” wide and a staggering 268” long. (Or 0.34 x 6.82 meters). This enormous rectangular map warped geography in order to fit everything within those peculiar dimensions. The map is composed of six colors in all, black, red, green yellow blue and a rose color depicting different routes and time periods. Experts are still in debate over the authenticity of the geography depicted. There are regions on this map that imply an Empire on the move towards the east (further than archeological records can validate) and there is little else to support the extent of that expansion. Like many maps of this time period, they could very well have been illustrations used to exaggerate and validate political ideologies. Nevertheless, the Table is a fascinating and revealing depiction of a massive Empire.
There are a handful of other interesting resources where you can explore the Roman Empire, including Stanford University’s ORBIS project and the Pelagios Project by Johan Åhlfeldt. With these tools you can visualize an ancient network of cities and geographies.
For example - through ORBIS you can literally calculate travel times according to month, season and expense. A trip from Roma to Xanthos in July will take approximately 14.2 days by carriage, covering 2,217 kilometers. Using denarii (the local tinder of the time) you can also get estimates of what it might cost per passenger. On this particular trip, it would cost 381.17 denarii per person.
They say that All Roads Lead to Rome…
Enjoy and explore some of the Ancient Roman Resources below :
- ORBIS. The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World.
- The Pelagios Project by Johan Åhlfeldt.
- Roman Roads (Subway Map) by Sasha Trubetskoy.