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Itinerarium – Roman road map

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Tabula Peutingeriana showing southern Italy
Tabula Peutingeriana showing southern Italy, the Adriatic Sea and the Dalmatian and African coast.

Itinerarium (literally “journey”) was a Roman map showing cities, smaller centers (vici) and other places of interest to travelers. The only surviving map / note of this type is the so-called Tabula Peutingeriana or Itinerarium Antonini Augusti.

Tabula Peutingeriana1 is a 13th-century copy of a Roman original that shows Europe (excluding the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles), North Africa, the Middle East, Persia and India. Scientists suspect that the Roman original was from the 4th-5th centuries, which in turn was a copy of a great map made during the reign of Octavian Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE).

It is worth noting that the ancients were not used to using maps as we do today. Different kinds of maps existed in the libraries but were largely not used. The Romans, however, had a different kind of solution to make travelling easier.

The so-called itineraria (plural), which was originally lists of cities and important places along the road. Most often, this information coincided with the engravings on the milestones on roads. Gradually, however, these types of notes were diversified, also covering the neighbouring roads and introducing the legend and markings of the city, stops, rivers, etc. trail.

Roman authorities repeatedly passed orders from above to map Roman roads. The first known order came from Julius Caesar and Mark Antony in 44 BCE. At their command, some Greek geographers – Zenodoxus, Theodotus and Polyclitus – undertook the work of creating the main map of Roman roads. It turned out that the work took nearly 25 years of effort, and the result was an engraved stone slab next to the Pantheon, the information of which could be used to create smaller versions.

  1. The name derives from the surname of a German antiquarian from the 16th century - Konrad Peutinger.
  • Leo Bagrow, History of Cartography, 2010
  • Peutinger Map, ""

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