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Friday, December 23, 2016

A nomenclature of Roman road systems from a geographer's perspective


A road system may be defined as a structural transportation system with dedicated functional purposes, based on terrestrial and fluvial infrastructures and differentiated stage settlements. 
Road systems may be either organic or abstract or have an institutional foundation and management. In this last case they may be staffed with administration, control and technical transportation, maintenance and stationing services.
Distinct road systems will share extant network infrastructure where they overlap spatially.
In the Roman Empire, during its territorial mature phase (2-5 AD), several types of road systems may be posited, grouped below in a descendant hierarchical order according to a ranking of factor:

IMPERIAL POLITICS

1. Imperial geostrategic systems
  • Radial: connecting the centers of Imperial power with its major military resources and territorial capitals
  • Peripheral: connecting major military border defense systems (Limes)
  • Major military campaign road axis, connecting military resources between standing army bases and theaters of war
2. Imperial administrative super-provincial hierarchical networks
  • Connecting Praefectura capitals with Diocesis capitals
  • Connecting Diocesis capitals with Provincia capitals

IMPERIAL GEO-ECONOMY

3. State-directed trade systems
  • Annona militaris road system
  • Annona civilis road system
4. Long distance trade systems of provincial supply
5. External (foreign) trade road systems

PROVINCIAL ADMINISTRATION AND EXPLORATION

6. Provincial administrative hierarchical networks
  • Connecting provincial capitals with Conventus capitals (or cities with similar functions) and strategic ports
  • Connecting Conventus capital to Civitas capitals
7. Provincial administrative circular networks
  • Connecting Conventus capitals and other staging places of annual administrative tours by provincial officials
8. Provincial strategic resources systems
  • Organized riparia: fluvial transportation system, including riverine complementary roads
  • Connecting districts of State-appropriated strategic resources with a transshipment center or dentritic catchment zones with a transshipment axis
9. Inter-civitates polygon network. Provincial territory structuration

CIVIC PSEUDO-AUTONOMIC ADMINISTRATION AND LANDSCAPING

10. Civitas capital radial dendritic network
11. Sub-civitas networks
  • Vicus or secondary settlement radial dendritic network
  • Habitat polygonal connection network. Civic territory structuration

REGIONAL, EXTRA-CIVIC ECONOMIES AND LAND USES

12. Interregional communications axis
  • Transhumance system
  • Major landscape connection or interface road

LOCAL TOPOGRAPHIES

13. Micro-territorial structuration
  • Minor landscape connection or interface road
  • Elementary road axis topography: alternative, shortcut and junction
  • Elementary rural “capillary” topologies: catchment, mesh, etc.