New research shows that the Romans certainly knew what they were doing when it came to building roads, as the roads they built thousands of years ago are still associated with booming cities.
In other words, if you live near a Roman road network that was established over 2,000 years ago, you are probably in a relatively wealthy area. The trade, profit, and development that supported these roads is still important today.
This was not originally the primary use of roads, as the ancient Romans built roads mainly to facilitate the movement of troops. Over time, roads began to connect important cities.
“Given that a lot has happened since then, a lot had to be adapted to modern conditions,” says economist Ola Olsson of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. along them. Although it disappeared and covered itself with new paths.
At the height of the expansion of the Roman Empire in the early second century AD, about 80,000 km (49,710 mi) of roads were built, with construction of the first road—a military supply route—starting in 312 BC.
The researchers mapped the roads of the Roman Empire from recent satellite imagery, using nighttime light intensity as a rough indicator of economic activity.
The map has been subdivided into smaller grids for closer analysis, measuring one degree of longitude by one degree of latitude.
Ancient Roman roads still have a mysterious effect even when they disappear https://t.co/EB4T7BQzxJ
— ScienceAlert (@ScienceAlert) November 21, 2022
The team reported a “remarkable pattern of consistency” between the geography of Roman roads and the geography of modern economic activity, although much of the original infrastructure has now completely disappeared.
There is a vacillation between the hypothesis that these roads stimulated economic activity and the hypothesis that these roads were built in areas that were already prosperous, but there are indications that the first hypothesis is correct and that the roads led to an increase in trade and wealth. The team says the emergence of trade cities along the roads was crucial.
Olson added: “This is a big problem in this whole area of research. What makes this study even more interesting is that the roads themselves disappeared, and the chaos in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire would be an opportunity to reorient the economic economy.” structures. Despite this, the pattern has been preserved in urban permanence.
However, the results were not the same everywhere: in North Africa and the Middle East, where camel caravans replaced wheeled transport sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries AD, Roman roads were not built or replaced.
In these regions there is no connection between the old ways and the current economic well-being. The researchers say that market towns, or in this case the lack of them, are crucial.
It should be noted that these results also have implications for future infrastructure planning. Decisions about where to locate roads and railroads can significantly improve the economic climate in a given region—and as this latest study shows, that improvement can last for a very long time.
The detailed results of this study have been published in Comparative Economics.
Source: Science Alert