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The Roman milestone, a stone column, such as were set up at intervals of 1,000 (mille) passus = 5,000 Roman feet on the military roads, partly during the last years of the Republic, and regularly since Augustus. They gave in numbers, usually preceded by M.P. (milia passuum), the distance from the place from which the measurement was made, besides its name and that of the person who had constructed the road or erected the milestone, and of the emperor in whose reign the road had been made. A great number of these milestones, in every part of the Roman empire, has been preserved, and also the base of the central column of gilt bronze (miliarium aureum) erected by Augustus in the Forum near the temple of Saturn; it was regarded as the centre of the empire. (SeePlan of Fora, under FORUM.)
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The earliest levelled roads in Greece were the " sacred ways." These led to the most important religious centres where national festivals were celebrated: such festivals also serving the purpose of public markets or fairs. In general, the Greeks set a high value on excellent and well-levelled roads, which made travelling easy. But, in the best days of Greece, only unpaved roads were known, paved roads being of comparatively late origin. The grandest work in ancient road-making was that done by the Romans, who, mainly for military purposes, connected Rome with her newly acquired provinces by means of high-roads. They laid out their roads as far as possible in straight lines. The nature of the ground is almost entirely disregarded; where mountains intervened they were broken through, and interposing streams and valleys were spanned with bridges and viaducts. The first Roman high-road, which, even in its present condition, is worthy of admiration, was the Via Appia, so called after the censor Appius Claudius, who constructed it. It was made in B.C. 312 to join Rome to Capua, and was afterwards continued as far as Brundisium. This " queen of roads," as it is called [by Statius, Silvoe ii 2,12, Appia longarum teritur regina viarum], was a stone causeway, constructed, according to the nature of this country, with an embankment either beneath or beside it, and was of such a width that two broad wagons could easily pass each other. [Fig. 1 show part of this road below the village of Ariccia where it runs for a considerable distance on an embankment faced with freestone, and with massive balustrades and seats on both sides, as well as vaulted openings the basement to serve as outlets for the mountain streams.] The surface was paved with polygonal blocks of hard stone, generally basalt, fitted closely together, and so laid down that the centre of the road was at a higher level than the sides, to allow the rain-water to run off. [Fig. 2 shows the construction of the pavement.] According to a subsequent method, the Roman roads first received a foundation of rubble or breccia, on which rested a layer of flat stones 8 inches thick; above this was an equally thick layer of stones set in lime, which was covered by another layer of rubble about 3 inches deep; above the rubble was laid down the pavement proper, consisting of either hard stone (silex) or else irregular blocks of basaltic lava. In the time of the emperor Hadrian, the cost of constructing such a road amounted to £900 per Roman mile (about 1·5 kilom, = about 4/5 English mile). From the end of the 2nd century B.C. posts set up at distances of 1,000 paces, from each other served to measure distances. (See MILIARIUM.) The making and maintenance of the roads in Italy were provided for at the expense of the aerarium, or State-treasury. During the republican age the roads were under the supervision of the censors. From the time of Augustus they were under imperial officials entitled curatores viarum. In the provinces, in general, the cost of the military roads, and indeed of all public works, was defrayed out of the provincial taxes in the imperial provinces soldiers were also frequently employed in constructing roads. In a few cases toll was levied by special imperial permission.
Type: Standard
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