You Think Your Commute Is Bad? Learn the Surprising Truth About Ancient Highways
Before you grumble about your commute or GPS taking you on a wild goose chase, remember that travel wasn’t always as straightforward as it is today. Most of us would take a traffic jam on the freeway over having to haul a ship across land any day!
Around 500 B.C., the Persian Empire constructed the Royal Road, a well-maintained highway stretching some 1,700 miles from Susa, in modern-day Iran, to the Aegean Sea in Turkey. This engineering marvel allowed messages to be delivered across the empire in just a week.
Ancient Rome was famous for its impressive network of roads, some 50,000 miles, built between 500 B.C. and A.D. 476. Their motto was “all roads lead to Rome,” and they weren’t kidding! Their road network was built for speed and durability, using a combination of materials like stones, sand, and gravel.
Did you know the ancient Chinese had a knack for water travel? The Grand Canal, completed during the Sui Dynasty in 609 A.D., was a major artery for commerce and communication, stretching over 1,100 miles.
Ancient India saw the development of extensive road networks for both trade and military movement. Ashoka, a Mauryan king, even established roadside facilities for travelers, including wells and rest houses.