Map of Roads Leading to Rome
August 14, 2016 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Explore the Peutinger Map is a website companion to Prof. Richard J. A. Talbert's Rome's World: The Peutinger Map Reconsidered (Google Books, Amazon). It presents The Peutinger Map in different ways, including with overlays and lists of geographical features. But what's The Peutinger Map? Also known as Tabula Peutingeriana, it is a Medieval copy of highly stylized 4th Century map of the Roman road network, extending to India. Jacob Ford explains why it is often compared to modern public transit maps [pdf] and then redraws one section as a New York Metro map. Euratlas has scans of the Medieval manuscript stored at the Austrian National Library and Wikimedia Commons has a high quality scan of Konrad Miller's authoritative 1888 facsimile edition.
posted by Kattullus (22 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
See also a similarly linearized map of Lake Michigan's coastline and a contemporary (un-warped) map of roads to Rome.
posted by waninggibbon at 12:57 PM on August 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

OK, where do I print a 680x33cm poster? I want this map on my wall.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 2:18 PM on August 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Shoot, I've located Rome, Byzantium and Antioch going right but going left, the map stops somewhere in Gallia (there's a Parisi up there, I think Tolosa is Toulouse and Lugduno is Lyons). Jerusalem is *tiny*.
posted by sukeban at 2:27 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Use the Konrad Miller map, sukeban, I found it much easier, and then used the Explore site to figure out the correct spelling of the various features.
posted by tavella at 2:30 PM on August 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yup. The last link shows the westernmost part and I can finally see my hometown *pumps fist*. Curious stuff: Tarracona (modern Tarragona) looks bigger than Barcelona. Caditana (Cádiz) is shown at the westernmost point, while "Bricantia" (A Coruña) is shown in the upper part with the Tower of Hercules but not to the west as it is in reality.
posted by sukeban at 2:34 PM on August 14, 2016

The westernmost part in Konrad Miller's edition is his speculative reconstruction of the lost panel showing the Iberian Peninsula, the British Isles and modern Morocco.
posted by Kattullus at 3:05 PM on August 14, 2016

Aw then.
posted by sukeban at 3:06 PM on August 14, 2016

See also a similarly linearized map of Lake Michigan's coastline

As someone who grew up in Michigan, now lives in Chicago, and routinely travels the length of the Lake Michigan coast in this map...

mind blown
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:09 PM on August 14, 2016

Like, I've lived my whole life within 45 miles of a Great Lake. Of course the coasts are my plumb line.

mind continues to blow
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:10 PM on August 14, 2016

sukeban: Aw then.

Yeah, I had a similar reaction when I realized that the map's depiction of Thule was probably a product of Miller's imagination. It would have been really exciting to have a Roman map of my home country.
posted by Kattullus at 3:10 PM on August 14, 2016

I do love a good strip map. My personal favorite example is the Ammassalik wooden maps.
posted by zamboni at 3:55 PM on August 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Roman Roads? Terrific record!
posted by smcdow at 3:57 PM on August 14, 2016

With these maps, we can now lure Caesers' fleet into Grand Traverse bay.
posted by clavdivs at 4:17 PM on August 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

You follow the Tiber up from Rome and eventually you reach the Paglia (fl[uvius] Pallia) which seems to flow into the Tiber (as it does), but also into the Tyrrhenian sea (as it most certainly does not).

Very odd, and if anyone has insight, please contact me.
posted by BWA at 4:50 PM on August 14, 2016

Excellent, thanks Kattallus!

Well, obviously the roads. The roads go without saying, don't they.
posted by carter at 5:31 PM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

wow this is really cool. I'm (re)listening to Mike Duncan's The History of Rome right now, this is useful
posted by rebent at 6:58 PM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Love this post! Thank you :)

Here's a Google-Maps-Style, zoomable, searchable map of the Roman Empire for comparison.

Interactive map calculates travel time between cities in the ancient Rome. You can specify the method of travel, season, topography, etc.

The page highlights and labels for notable features of the Peutinger map.

A map showing sections of the Peutinger map projected onto a modern map.
posted by Davenhill at 8:04 PM on August 14, 2016 [9 favorites]

As an aside, I've always been curious about the small, perfectly circular island in the bottom right corner of the map in Mesopotamia. It has two cities on it, Diotahi and Derta, linked by a road.

The circle draws attention to the island, and yet it's unnamed. It just seems odd.

If it's obscure, why draw attention to it by representing it as a perfect circle? If it's well known enough to have a reputation as perfectly circular, why not name it?

I'm not suggesting it's analogous to a Lost City of Atlantis, but I can't help but wonder if there's an interesting (even semi-fabled) backstory that's been lost to time here.*

* Sure, the likely explanation is that it's just a quirk of artistic license. Or perhaps the geometric shape calls out that the shape is conjecture (cf. some of the lakes in India are nearly perfectly oval). But it's not a satisfying explanation, especially given the jagged detail of other nearby river islands and features.
posted by Davenhill at 8:05 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

'Diotahi' may be an error for 'Biotahi', referring to the marsh region of Batihah. Could the circular shape indicate an artificial reclaimed area - probably short-lived?
posted by Segundus at 10:50 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you very much for the link, Segundus! And translated from Catalan no less! 'Biotahi' makes much more sense. (slaps forehead)*

Your link is spot on - it addresses the Peutinger map and provides wonderful detail on the region, including the time of the map.

It's still a shame there's no direct explanation of the circular area. But your suggested explanation makes sense, especially given the information in the link. I think that settles most of the mystery for me. :) Thank you again!

* Funny, I initially misread the blotchy D on the scanned map as a B. But I couldn't find 'Biotahi' in the map's index, only Diotahi. And there was no information for Diotahi.
posted by Davenhill at 11:36 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is great. Thanks, Kattullus.
posted by cwest at 1:03 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


A what now?

*tap tap tap tap*

Oh, right. Me too.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:32 AM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

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