Contents - Previous Article - Next Article

"All Roads Lead to Rome"

Roman architects and engineers are most well known today for their roads and aqueducts. Though a shovel does not seem to be as deadly and effective a weapon in the hands of a Roman soldier as his famous gladius, it was soldiers with shovels that built most of the roads that tied the mighty Roman Empire together for five hundred years. Because of the priority the Roman government placed on building wide, durable, all - weather roads, an army could be sent to a trouble spot in the farthest corner of the Empire and arrive there within six weeks.

Roman engineers designed their roads to provide a solid surface on which to drive chariots and freight wagons or to move thousands of soldiers quickly. They had to be well drained so that rainwater did not build up and weaken them and they often had to cross wide stretches of wet or marshy ground without collapsing under the weight of an army legion and its heavy supply wagons. Roman roads were constructed with a foundation of rock so that they would not sink out of sight when the ground was waterlogged and would not wash away with the runoff from the spring thaw and rains.

To build a road, a work crew often consisting of soldiers or slaves under the supervision of soldiers would first dig two ditches.

Go to next article:
Go back to previous article:

Return to Roman Engineers Table of Contents