Plan Your Trip through the Roman Empire with ORBIS

If you wanted to know the fastest route from Roma to Londinium in June of 300 AD or how much it would cost to ride the shortest distance at ox cart speed to Constantinopolis, check out ORBIS. Researchers at Stanford have created a model of Ancient Roman transport networks over land and sea composed of 751 points (cities, landmarks, mountain passes) and thousands of linkages.

The model simulates the average distance of a large group of travelers taking a given route in a given month. The frictions of distance, terrain, climate, and monetary expense are all accounted for in the model and you have the ability to set many of the options. The technical aspects of the project as well as its historical bases are thoroughly documented. The output consists of route maps (which you can download as KML or as CSV) and interactive cartograms. The platform is an open source stack – PostgreSQL with PostGIS, Open Layers, Geoserver, and some JavaScript libraries.

Check it out at

The fastest route from Roma to Londinium in June? A boat ride across the Mediterranean to Narbo, foot/army/pack animal across southern Gaul, and a coast-hugging boat ride from Burdigala will get you there in 26.6 days and 2,974 kilometers. That carriage to Constantinopolis would cost you about 2,087 denarii and would take 128 days at ox cart speed – perhaps you should consider a fast military march instead?

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