Stanford University researchers have developed an interactive map of the Roman Empire called ORBIS that features roads, rivers, and sea routes.
ORBIS allows users to calculate travel times and costs, enabling researchers to test hypotheses and develop new ones about the economic, social, military, and political conditions of the ancient Roman Empire. The map is arranged around 751 sites in an area of approximately 4 million square miles. The sites were settlements or landmarks considered significant for traversing the empire, which spanned three continents. The map includes data on the strength and direction of wind and ocean currents, which can cause travel to vary significantly in summer and winter.
Stanford digital humanities specialist Elijah Meeks, one of the map’s creators, says the network of dominant routes changes based on what is being moved, such as military troops or a shipment of slaves from Thrace to Capua. ORBIS helps uncover the importance of sea routes across the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and coastal Atlantic Ocean.
Meeks notes that sea travel allowed for speeds of 80 kilometers per day, although a 24-hour horse relay was capable of moving information even faster, at 250 kilometers in a day.
From Science News
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