Skip to main content

Roads as networks of communication and control

Tønnes Bekker-Nielsen

The network of control in any Roman province was defined by its roads. Until recently, road studies in Turkey have been hampered by the unavailability of aerial photos (Olshausen 1999, 108). Taking advantage of high-resolution (< 1m) satellite imagery now available, this study aims to bring our knowledge of the road system of the lower Halys region up to current standards. Compared with previous studies, the scope will be widened by (a) applying a diachronous rather than a synchronous approach, (b) by including roads at the secondary level, (c) using GIS to study the morphology of roads and their spatial relation to settlements and findspots. Given the scarcity of literary evidence, the methodology will focus on the archaeology, morphology, and context of the roads (Chevallier 1998, 97-167; Bekker-Nielsen 2004, 17-32). The potential for new finds in the Neoklaudiopolis region is considerable: a week's trial survey by Rainer Czichon and Tønnes Bekker-Nielsen in April 2010 as part of the Oymaağaç-Nerik project brought to light a bridge, a ford, a well-preserved section of Roman highway, and three unpublished milestones (Bekker-Nielsen, 2010).

The first to attempt a reconstruction of the Roman road system of the region was Munro (1901). Later, scholars have followed his a priori assumption that the road from Thermai (Havza) through Neoklaudiopolis to the Halys formed part of an east-west highway from Magnopolis to Pompeiopolis. Ancient roads, however, tend to link complementary environments: city and country, coast and inland, hills and plain: not inland plains with inland plains. The alternative hypothesis to be explored by this study is that the Havza-Neoklaudipolis road was grafted onto an existing north-south route going back perhaps as early as the Bronze Age (Gonzales & Lucía 2008, 17-18).

All finds (structures, artefacts, inscriptions) will be entered in a shared database for this project and the Oymaağaç-Nerik project.

Bekker-Nielsen, T. 2004. The Roads of Ancient Cyprus. Copenhagen.
Bekker-Nielsen, T. 2010. "New milestones from Neoklaudiopolis", Epigraphica Anatolica 43, 87-92.
Chevallier, R. 1998. Les voies romaines. 2nd ed. Paris.
González Salazar, J.M. & R. Lucía Castejón 2008. "Itineraria Anatolica Antiqua: La red viaria de los sectores montañosos septentrionales de Anatolia: las rutas nororientales y el Imperio hitita", Gerion 26:2, 7-22.
Munro, J.H. 1901. "Roads in Pontus, Royal and Roman", Journal of Hellenic Studies 21, 52-66.
Olshausen, E. 1999. "Pontica IV. Das römische Straβennetz in Pontos: Bilanz und Überblick". Orbis Terrarum 5, 94-113.