Mappe Romane Antiche

Ancient roman maps

Roman cartography is the art and science of graphically representing the geographical space of ancient Rome and its provinces. The Romans inherited the cartographic tradition from the Greeks, but adapted it to their practical needs for conquest, administration, and trade. Roman maps were essentially functional in purpose and were not intended to be displayed as works of art or study. The main sources of information for Roman cartography were the land measurements carried out by surveyors, accounts of travelers and military personnel, and the geographical and historical works of authors like Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and Ptolemy.


Exploring the Past: The Fascinating Ancient Roman Maps

Ancient Roman maps provide a genuine window into the world of ancient Rome, offering a unique perspective on the geography, culture, and conquests of this extraordinary civilization. In this article, we will explore the historical significance of these maps, their creation process, and how they were crucial for the administration of the Roman Empire.

The Creation of Roman Maps

Ancient Roman maps were made with extraordinary precision, considering the era in which they were produced. Roman cartographers used tools like the compass and the solar gnomon to determine directions and distances. This allowed them to map in detail the regions controlled by the Roman Empire. Many of these cartographic documents were engraved on stone or bronze, ensuring their durability over the centuries.

Strategic Use of Maps

Ancient Roman maps played a crucial role in the administration of the Roman Empire. They were used to plan military campaigns, regulate trade, and manage resources. Each province of the Empire had its detailed maps, allowing for better management and organization. The maps were also essential for the maintenance of roads, planning new trade routes, and constructing infrastructure.

The Recovery of Ancient Roman Maps

Over the centuries, numerous ancient Roman maps have been discovered in various parts of the world. These findings have been fascinating for archaeologists and historians, as they have provided a deeper insight into Roman life and connections with other cultures. The maps bear witness to the expansion of the Roman Empire, cultural influences, and trade routes that connected Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Cultural and Historical Legacy

Ancient Roman maps represent an invaluable cultural heritage. In addition to providing geographical data, they also show aspects of everyday life, such as the layout of cities, road networks, and places of interest. These documents help us understand how ancient Rome influenced the history of humanity in many ways, from politics to architecture, from art to technology.

Ancient Roman maps are an extraordinary testament to the ingenuity and expertise of the Romans in the field of cartography. Exploring these maps is a journey back in time that allows us to rediscover the ancient world and appreciate their contribution to our understanding of history. With their historical, cultural, and scientific value, ancient Roman maps deserve to be studied and preserved for future generations.

Roman maps can be divided into two main categories: cadastral maps and itineraries.

Cadastral maps were intended to record the division and ownership of land, both in Italy and in the provinces. They were drawn on perishable materials like skin, linen, or papyrus, or on durable materials like bronze or marble. One of the most famous Roman cadastral maps is the Forma Urbis Romae, a marble plan of the city of Rome made between 203 and 211 AD, of which only fragments survive.

Itineraries, on the other hand, were meant to facilitate travel along the roads and waterways of the empire. They were based on a schematic and linear representation of space, indicating major cities, distances, stopping points, and available resources. One of the most famous Roman itinerary maps is the Tabula Peutingeriana, a medieval copy of an ancient map that shows the entire world known to the Romans, from the Atlantic to India. The Tabula Peutingeriana is an example of cylindrical cartographic projection, in which latitudes are compressed and longitudes are distorted.

Roman cartography had a great influence on medieval and modern cartography, both through the transmission of some works, like those of Ptolemy, and the preservation of some place names and geographical elements. Roman cartography, therefore, represents a precious testimony of the worldview and culture of one of the greatest civilizations in history.

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