When it comes to one of the most important of ancient Roman roads , the Appian Way has proven throughout history that it has served as much more than just a simple dusty trail to follow. Why else would it have been given the name of “the Queen Road?”
The Appian Way linked Rome to Brindisi, Apulia in the southeastern part of Italy. The construction for the major section of the road began and was completed in 312 BC. In the beginning, the road was nothing more than dirt leveled on the ground with small stones and a bit of mortar dispersed. Gravel was then laid on top. The final touches includes the placement of stones that provided a tight fit and interlocked with one another to produce a flat surface. There is a rumor that some of the stones were so tightly meshed together that it was impossible to slip a knife in-between the cracks. The middle of the road was crested to compensate for water runoff. Ditches were positioned on either side of the road, where retaining walls served as protection.
The start of the road was marked at the Forum Romanum, which passed through the Servian Wall at the porta Capena. History shows us that the Romans truly knew how to build roads of high quality, showcasing layers of cemented stone that covered layers of smaller stones. Dirt pathways were created to serve as sidewalks. In studying the via Appia, it is thought that it serves as the first Roman road that featured the use of lime cement.
Also, since one of the most prominent materials of road building during this time was volcanic rock, the surface was extremely smooth. The Roman section of this road is still in existence, where tourists are able to view monuments that span various time periods in history. While the cement has undergone the process of erosion in regards to the joints, the rough surface you see today is not what the ancient Romans traveled upon.
The Crucifixion of Spartacus and the Appian Way
A slave revolt broke out in 73 BC, which earned the name of Third Servile War. A former gladiator of Capua (named Spartacus) raged against the Romans and was successful in defeating a great deal of Roman armies. Unfortunately, he made a wrong move when he transferred his forces into a trap set in Apulia , Calabria. It was his intention to flee Brindusium, but the Romans were too familiar with the region.
In Part II of “Appian Way , An Infamous Ancient Roman Road,” you will encounter information concerning the conclusion of what happened to Spartacus and his men during the slave revolt, as well as introduce you to another prime figure in ancient Roman history , Crassus.