THE ROMAN ROAD

After a short jump in time of “only” three to four thousand and a few years (at the end of the day, time is a relative concept 😊), we will reach the Roman times. With their immense military power but as well, and without any doubt, with a gigantic cultural contribution, they had followers wherever they arrived. In the Iberian Peninsula they developed a roads network of more than 40,000 km, as wonderfully described by D. Pau Soto, historian/Archaeologist at the Institut Catalá d’Arqueología Clássica (ICAC) in his History of Mobility in the Iberian Peninsula through the Roman roads. One of them runs parallel to the young Guadiana River and therefore crosses our farm, PAGO LOS CERRILLOS. Little of it remains nowadays but a little bit of its original layout.

 

THE MAP OF HISPANIA

In Hispania, the first roads built by the Romans, mainly for military use, date back to around 120 BC in the ​​Catalonia region. While conquering the Peninsula, they shaped an impressive road infrastructures network, as can be seen in the map drawn up by Mr. Pau de Soto. Some of the most important were the Via Augusta, of about 1,500 kilometers and which ran from Cádiz to the Pyrenees bordering the Mediterranean, or the Via de la Plata , from Augusta Emerita (Mérida) to Asturica Augusta (Astorga).

Another essential element to know the routes of the Roman roads are the milestones , cylindrical stone columns between 2 and 4 meters high that indicated the number of miles existing from their location, especially on bridges, nearby temples or in the monumental arches at the entrance to the cities, up to the road origin. They could also indicate the distance to a fork in the road or to a special geographical spot.

In addition, some of these milestones, which were like a kind of old traffic signs, indicated the name of the authority that promoted the construction or repair of the road and, therefore, the time of its completion. Based on this information, in Hispania the highest volume of road construction was recorded when Trajano and Adriano, born in Italica, were appointed emperors. “They incurred in huge infrastructure investments and made a lot of propaganda here, and looking at the whole of the Peninsula, all works are pretty much spread over it “, explains the archaeologist Mr. Pau de Soto. Other Hispania emperor delegates such as Augusto, Claudio, Vespasiano, Domiciano or Nerva also promoted the Hispanic communications network, which stood out for its peripherical nature: it was easier to export products to Rome by sea than crossing half the continent.

 

THE PROPAGANDA ELEMENT

In addition to serving as a mechanism for the transport of goods and people, the roads revealed themselves as a powerful tool to consolidate the power of Rome. “Infrastructures are a very important political element: Depending on the different territories position in war conflicts, Romans rewarded or penalized them by building roads or not,” says the promoter of the Viator-e project. “Rome built overwhelming infrastructures not only because of its functionality, but also to show the benefits of being under its rule. It was a basic propaganda strategy”

Mr. Pau de Soto explains as well that nowadays, some myths about the roads of Ancient Rome have spread widely because of fictions, such as the Asterix and Obelix cartoons : «Not all the interurban Roman roads were paved with stones, that is a tremendously widespread mistake. Except for the Appian Way, the rest were not paved because the horses did not wear horseshoes, at most they had hyposandals on. The best road for them, better than stone paved ones, were the rammed soil ones, porous and fine-grained.

Part of the aforementioned Via Augusta, the one called interior, is the one that crossed towns such as Laminium, Consabrum, Segobriga, and of course Toletum, and among some of these towns, either the main road or some of its side roads, ran parallel to the Guadiana river, in what is now Pago los Cerrillos.

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