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K. Kris Hirst

Ancient Roads

By May 5, 2008

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Maybe it's a result of my youthful stint as a secretary in a university geography department, but I am flat out fascinated by the history of roads and road systems. So often they are tied to empire building, to trade, to cultural contact; all fascinating bits of the ancient past, as far as I'm concerned.

Stone Paved Trail Segment, Inca Trail
Stone Paved Trail Segment, Inca Trail
Photo Credit: Jenny Mealing

Over the years I've spent here at About.com, I've compiled information on several of the most interesting in our collective histories. Here are a handful of the specific ways in which some past cultures moved along the countryside.

Ancient Roads and Transportation Networks

Have a good trip!


May 5, 2008 at 1:59 pm
(1) Bruce Craig says:

You omit the Chaco road system in New Mexico and possibly Utah:

May 5, 2008 at 2:55 pm
(2) Kris Hirst says:

Great idea! thanks much…


May 5, 2008 at 11:06 pm
(3) William Sullivan says:

We took in the Corlea Trackway in Ireland last Spring. This was an attempt to build a track over the bog. Seems that it went in a particular direction toward a holy hill, or so they thought at the site center. The amount of work required to split oak trees must have taken many workers. The planks may have been used as a track, but they soon sank. Ireland is a great country to see the tremendous amount of labor that motivated the people to work very hard for their beliefs. We keep going back for our great pleasure. We rarely see a tourist out where we go.

May 6, 2008 at 9:51 am
(4) Sarita Kaushal says:

You must have heard of possibly the very first urban roads built during the time of the Mohenjodaro and Harappa civilization. Corssed at right angles, broad and built to last – a definite must-do research and publish:)

May 6, 2008 at 4:02 pm
(5) Kris Hirst says:

Great idea, too! Is there a particularly good site to look at that you’re aware of?


May 12, 2008 at 8:46 pm
(6) Jerome Cook says:

How about the first roads in Western civilization: the Minoan roads. Also, I remember reading that the Mycenaean roads were better in 1300 BC than they were in the 3rd century BC.

May 13, 2008 at 1:28 am
(7) Sherman Rausch says:

This may be out in left field but I read a book many years ago called “The Journeyer” by Gary Jennings and although it is fictitious it is based on Marco Polo’s travels of the Silk Road, as to how embelished it is I’m not sure but it is a very entertainig read never the less.

May 15, 2008 at 11:05 am
(8) Kris Hirst says:

I’ve heard Jennings is very good, so that some Mesoamericanists use his “Aztec” as teaching material.

December 16, 2008 at 6:07 am
(9) John Coyne says:

Gary Jennings writes fiction. He appears knowledgeable, but he cannot even use a dictionary to fake the simplest foreign-language phrase . I wouldn’t take a single “fact” from his works.

June 10, 2009 at 8:14 am
(10) Sarita Kaushal says:

There is an eminent Indian archaeologist who might be of immense help to anyone interested in the advanced structure of roads and sewage systems at the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. Dr S R Rao has also discovered various sites earlier dismissed as part of “a mythological past” in the tradition of Troy and the Trojan Wars and has lead research teams along the extensive urban river settlements of the Indus Valley. Here is a Wiki article on him:

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