Tag Archives: road

Road building in Roman times

(Originally published on August 22, 2014)

In an article published in 2009 – “Costruire strade in epoca romana: tecniche e morphologie. Il caso dell´Italia settentrionale ”, Michele Matteazzi of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Padua reviews the constructive panorama of the Roman roads in northern Italy, presenting the various techniques and morphologies identified during the archaeological excavations carried out in the region during the last century. This excellent compilation highlights on the one hand the wide variety of constructive techniques used by Roman engineering to overcome difficulties and on the other hand rebounds the great misconception that has plagued virtually all Roman road studies to date: the assumption that all the Roman roads were paved with great slabs of stone; This misconception originated in 1622 when Nicolas Bergier published his seminal work L’Histoire des Grandes Chemins de l’Empire Romain, when he (wrongly) considered a passage from Vitruvius that spoke of paving housing structures as a reference to the technique of road construction, proposing for the roads a stratigraphic sequence that became canonical, composed of statumen, rudus and nucleus; its persistence to this day is also linked to the little attention given to Roman road technique until very recently, as the traces have always pointed in another direction, ie the use of various construction processes and a wide variety of materials (often obtained in the vicinity of the work) arranged in successive layers which allowed a simpler and faster construction without losing its road efficiency. Given the importance that the article may have in the study of the road network in Portugal, I decided (with the proper permission of the author to whom I thank) to make its translation available in Portuguese. The article can be read in the Italian or Portuguese version.

“Roman” road in Canelas, Gaia

(Originally published on June 20, 2014)

The Roman road XVI between Bracara Augusta and Olisipo crossed the current municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia passing by Santo Ovídio and Canelas; the only testimony we have of this road is a small section of the pavement discovered in the 1930s on «Senhora do Monte» Street during the works for enlargement of the national road EN1; there’s a picture published by Armando de Mattos in 1937 in his little book “As Estradas Romanas no Concelho de Gaia”. Since then, the road has been mutilated by repeated repairs to the national road and the construction of an urbanization that has destroyed a few hundred meters of the old road. What is left now are a few surviving slabs of the original pavement still in place on the side of the modern road. The deep furrows as a result of the wear and tear caused by cartwheels over the centuries, a sign of its antiquity. Coordinates:  41.088836, -8.591531
View location in Street View

“Roman” road in Ereira

(Originally published on February 25, 2014)

Next to the village of Ereira (Sever do Vouga) there is still a stretch of Roman cobblestone with about 100m belonging to the main road linking Talabriga (Cabeço do Vouga) to Vissaium (Viseu); The site is easily accessible from the road between Talhadas and Reigoso. Note the depth of the grooves narks left by the passing cartwheels attesting its antiquity; note also the rock cuts and the perfect fitting of the polygonal-shape stone slabs. Coordinates: 40.673164,  -8.297535

Roman road in «Ammaia»

(Originally published on November, 2012)

A stretch of the road in Carris. Vestiges of the pavement.

One of the Roman roads that departed from the Roman city of Ammaia (S. Salvador de Aramenha, Marvão) crossed the Roman Bridge of the Madalena and went uphill along this stretch of the road in a site called «Carris». This route continues for a few kilometres until it meets the modern road EN359, perhaps with continuation towards Évora through Portalegre. Coordinates: 39.354269,-7.401371

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#ammaia_evora

Roman road section found in Évora

(Originally published on June 23, 2009)

A section of the Roman road that passed by the Évora aerodrome was discovered due to the works of the future Aeronautical Industry Park. Although the passage of a Roman road in this area was already known, following the crossing of the river Xarrama in the Old Bridge of Xarrama, this discovery clarifies the exact layout of the road. As this section is just outside the city, hopefully this time the road will be properly kept in tow of the important necropolis discovered there. This section would be part of Antonino’s Itinerary XXI, linking Ebora with Pace Julia (now Beja), passing the Serpa, Arucci and Fines stations for which there are no defined locations yet. It is assumed, however, that this road would go in the direction of Portel and Moura, continuing later by Serpa until Beja.

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#evora_serpa