Remains of an ancient Roman road from 150 AD were recently unearthed during construction works at the Leidsche Rijn housing complex in Utrecht, Netherlands. Stretching over a distance of 600 meters, the Roman-era through-road was originally discovered by archaeologists in 1997. However, it took until now to actually uncover the 1870-year-old roadway.
As per Utrecht-based archaeologist Herre Wynia, the latest find will shed more light on the unique building techniques and logistics of the region under Roman Empire. Speaking about the discovery, Wynia said –
The road is made of masses of gravel which must have been brought here by ship. Building this road must have cost an enormous amount of time and energy.
Situated in the west of Utrecht, Leidsche Rijn is an up-and-coming neighborhood that is expected to be completed by 2025. At its full capacity, the housing complex will be able to accommodate around 80,000 inhabitants. Given that the complex borders what was once part of the Roman Empire, several valuable archaeological finds have been uncovered in the region over the years.
For instance, between 1997 and 2003, the remnants of Roman ships were found in the neighborhood of De Balije. Again, between 2002 and 2003, archaeologists discovered the remains of Roman-era watchtowers at Vleuterweide and Het Zand.
According to reports, the local authorities are currently considering preserving the ancient road as a public space Leidsche Rijn. However, further archaeological survey in the area will inevitably result in the demolition of the Roman road. Wynia added –
People can take home a piece of Roman gravel as a souvenir. Then we continue digging.
The sheer scope of the network of Roman roads at the height of the Roman Empire equated to around 29 great military highways radiating from the capital Rome itself, and these, in turn, were connected by at least 372 great roads that linked 113 provinces. When translated in terms of distance, the stone-paved roads alone accounted for over 50,000 miles, and they connected distant regions inside Gaul and Britain alone. The overall massive arrangement in many ways directly fueled the logistical and economic capacity of the burgeoning Roman realm, by allowing free movement of goods, civilians, and armies (Roman legions could travel as fast as 25 miles or 40 km per day on highways).
Read more: Subway-Style Diagram Recreates The Massive Network Of Major Ancient Roman Roads
This isn’t the first time that parts of a Roman-era road have come to light. Earlier in February 2017, a fascinating $315,000 project funded by McDonald’s Italia entailed the restoration of a 150-ft long ancient Roman road – dating back to circa 2nd-1st century BC – underneath the eatery in Frattochie (south of Rome).
Prior to that, in 2016, a team of researchers identified long-lost Roman roads in the scenic countryside of northern Britain. Interestingly enough, these lost roads were found with aid of modern laser scanning technology. Better known as LiDAR (light detection and ranging), this remote sensing technology in question is used for mapping specific areas by projecting laser that permeates through vegetation.
These lines of communication were originally established by the Romans after a sequence of events that led to a local Celtic revolt in 69 AD. Britain’s then governor, Quintus Petilius Cerialis started off the proceedings of conquering the northern part of England by securing the supply lines and building roads that connected strategic forts with towns. But unfortunately, while few of this ancient ‘highways’ remain untarnished, most have been overtaken by farmlands and encroaching development projects in our modern era.
Image Credits: Gemeente Utrecht