You are on page 1of 10
THE WORLD IN THE ROMAN TRAVELER'S: HAND AND HEAD, pJ.A. TaLsenr sry oF Nort Carouna, Cuamet Hint Ikis surely no surprise that when Francisco Pizarro and his followers ated the Inca empire in the 1530s and became aware of its ive network of land routes’, a comparison they readily made was ts anciem counterpart that eventually spanned the Roman empire om Hadrian's Wall 0 Berenice and from Gudes to Nisibis and beyond. 85 t0 add, there are striking differences in the nature of the two rorks, which when taken into account can serve to make the Roman appear more “advanced” and more convenient for travelers. had to traverse the formidable Andean heights that repeatedly ed the Incas. Among the conveyances routinely at the disposal of land routes were laid out to accommodate both, while Ince routes lowed for neither. Moreover, plenty of written materials were developed Assist those Roman travelers sufficiently literate to benefit from them Various ways, whereas Inca society lacked literacy, See in general D. Busserer, 2007, x Inca Empire. Roto Tos, M, Vauitn Gives & F.. Gone Esrevosy eds, gies» visiones ‘mundo, Madrid-Malaga, Ediciones Clasicas & Canales, 2008, pp, 109-128. 109 RicharD J.A. TALBERT THE WoRLD IN THE ROMAN TRAVELER'S HAND AND HEAD Indeed, 1 would date to suggest that such characteristics of the Roman pPeutinger map was designed asa Jand traveler's aide, And what a handy land-route network, as well as its sheer convenience for users, continue tg item, more or less the height of a typical ancient papyrus scroll! It is beguile most scholars into interpreting some important pieces of relevant compact enough to be carried in a saddle bag, ready to be rolled out testimony too uneritically, from too moder a perspective, with insufficient easily in the course of a joumey to check a route ot a placename or attention tothe material's nature and likely purpose in its ancient context { distance figure. In addition, many scholars have been persuaded by This claim may be illustrated by reference to three instances, very different the contention of Annalina and Mario Levi® that differences in the way from one another in appearance, but still in a sense related. principal settlements are represented by pictorial vignettes of various fypes amount to a code signifying what facilities and resources are 1, Peuiinges map available to the traveler at each main stopping-point. More generally The first instance is that unique, mi survival according to one widely shared opinion,® the whole basis of the map is medieval copy) the “Peutinger map” pages suv a nothing other than a set of written itinerary lists which the mapmaker ‘discovery’ around 1500 it became part of Konrad Peutinger’s library Be cee nertcoens a ne tes oy ayer) en ‘and remained there for more than two centuries, Subsequently, in 1738, it Bam ees tte Of She Lents abe fest appease were ment was acquired by the imperial (now national) brary of Aust in Viens ‘decoration’, added after the establishment of the land-route network which still holds it today”. A recent claim which regards the original map Plausible and attractive though this interpretation of the map may ‘as Carolingian work of the ninth century, not Roman at all, fails to convince. sound, it is insecure in many respects’. The very notion of the map being me*, Equally, I do not believe that the surviving copy lacks only the width intended as a practical, portable aide for use merits questioning. Who of. single parchment (about 60 cm) at its lehand end. Rather, this lostend ‘Would risk taking such a delicate, exquisite object -the work of months, Which would have been dominated by the Iberian peninsula, of course= even t0 copy, let along to design- to consult on actual long journeys? rust have been the width of two, or even three, of the parchments used For practical use, why insist upon setting the city of Rome atthe center? for making the surviving medieval copy*. One merit of ths estimation oF Such placement unavoidably creates a serious cartographic imbalance, the original map’s length (perhaps as much as 860 em, or about 30 Roman Tequiring generous coverage of the lesser span from the Atlantic to fect) is its reinforcement of the likelihood —which scholars have too offen Rome, and compressed coverage of the much greater span all the way , At the same time, the names on the Samos dial confirm that a distinctly individual set of choices could be ordered. It is important to understand that, once the required names and accompanying figures to fit the space available were supplied, there was no further difficulty for the maker of the sundial, because the names and figures are purely for the user’s information; they do not affect the sundial’s mechanism. Not all the space available for names is. necessarily filled, as in the case of the London dial; moreover it would not have been difficult to accommodate further names on the Samos dial in particular, It is a puzzle that the Ashmolean dial should fill all its space, but include the names Narbo, Galatia and Italy twice in so doing, moreover with variant latitude figures in the letter two instances. Vitruvius’ reference unquestionably implies that portable sundials were used on journeys. Even so, they may not really have offered much improvement upon telling the time by a glance at the sun’s position”. At least some were pethaps produced more as de xe ornaments for wealthy purchasers who might enjoy displaying their scientific sophistication” than as practical aides for real travelers. Few of the latter would want names such as India, Babylon, Ethiopia, At the same time, however itis notable that the Tischendorf sundial includes Ravenna and Aquileia in addition to Rome, and that the Aphrodisias sundial includes Burdigalt in addition to Gaul and Emerita in addition to Spain. The notion of @ portable sundial as showpiece or ornament is strengthened by the remarkable “pillbox’ type held by the Kunsthtist= Nonetheless the latitude figures for particular name may differ, “The same was said of sundials generally: for this observation asa literary topos $6 AS. Grates, 1979 The precision with which faite may he given to one-third, half or two-thirds Of8 degree can only reinforce this sense of expertise. 124 ‘Tue WoRLD IN THE ROMAN TRAVELER’S HAND AND HEAD risches Museum in Vienna, a mere 38 mm in diameter and 14 mm thick. iis base and lid are (or seem to be) coins of Antoninus Pius from the early 140s. Inside are a dial and four thin removable discs with a *peg” to hold them in position. Both faces of each disc are inscribed with a pair of names, allowing the owner to choose one of eight different [atitudes each time the sundial is put to use: 1a Rome Epirus Tb Ancona Tuscia 2a Alexandria Egypt 2b Britain Germany 3a Greece Asia 3b Affica Mauretania 4a Spain Achaia 4b OF the first name, only N is legible (in the middle of the ‘word); the second name is wholly illegible A neat, ingenious gem this medallion-type is for certain, but its miniature scale gives it even less practical value than the other known portable sundi A pair of broad conclusions should be underlined. First, in general, the geographical awareness of the Roman traveler is a large, neglected puzzle that will repay further probing, Second, more specifically, three Apparent aides to the Roman traveler ~the Peutinger map, the Antonine Itinerary, portable sundials-should not be assumed too readily to have fulfilled that role, when reason to think otherwise can be demonstrated. There was less of the world in the Roman traveler’s hand and head than there is in ours today. Inevitably, therefore, the more that modern science and technology are taken for granted, the harder it may prove for us to Achieve a suitably nuanced understanding of Roman worldview. Binuiocrarny Ackinwiary, S. > “Light on Byzantium — a universal sundial in the British Museum”, in C Exronsrur ed., Through a Glass Brightly: Studies in Byzantine and Medieval __ Art and Archaeology Presented to David Bucktion, Oxford, 2003, pp, 16-21 2% See, however, in this connection E, BUCHNER, 1976 125 Ricuano J.A, TALAERT Ain, E., ees emperial geography and the medieval Peutinger Map”, Imago Mundi, $7 (2005) 136-48. Avexaner, Li eee cThe Pauline itinerary and the archive of Theophanes”, in J, FoToroULOS ed, The New Testament and Early Christian Literature in Greco-Roman Context Studies la Honor of David E. Aune, Leiden and Boston, 2006, pp. 151-65, Brooeasen, K., + Terra Cognita, Studien Hildesheim, 1995 Bucuser, E, ~ “Romische Medaillons als Sonnenuhren”, Chiron, 6 (1976) 329-48. rimischen Raumerfassing. Spudasmata 59, Bussserer, D. £0. » The Oxford Companion to World Exploration, 2.voks., Oxford, 2007, Fnexcit, DH., ree Roman Roads and Milestones of Asia Minor. 1: the Pilgrim's Road. British ‘institute of Archaeology at Ankara Monograph 3, BAR International Series 105, Oxford, 1981 Gaarwick, AS. “Sundials, parasites, and girls from Boeotia", The Classica! Quarterly, 29 (3979) 308-23, Haney, J.B. ax Wooowarn, D. E05., ee The History of Cartography. Vol. 1: Cartography in Prehistori, Ancien ‘and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean, Chicago, 1987. Kirstex, E., a Landschaf und Geschichte in der antiken Welt: ausgewahite Kling Schriften, Bonn, 1984 Lev, A. NOM. pore Pita: Conti allo studi della Tabula Peutingeriana, Roma, 19ST Lovet, JA. ‘mblems of empire,” Archaeology, 60.3 (2007) 34-37. Marruews, J, ine Journey of Theophanes: Travel, Business, and Daily Life in the Roma East, Yale, 2006. Scuvezz,M. ‘Zur Sonnenuhr des Augustus auf dem Marsfeld”, Gymnasium, 97 (1990) 432. ‘Tauaeer, R, rropraphy and taste in Peutinger’s Roman map”, ino. and K. Bropense 126 “Tue WorLD IN THE ROMAN TRAVELER’S HAND AND HEAD eds, Space inthe Roman Worl: is Perception and Presentation Spode pp. 113-41 Pp dP 1, Miinster, _ Rome provinces famework for world-view" aL. Ds Licreral ed Roman Rule and Civic Life: Local and Regional Perspectives, oterdam soo. pp 21-7 gionl Perspectives, Amsterdam, "Konrad Miller, Rotan cartography, and the fst western end Peng a Frsunh ac Thrice Grape ae ten Wel. Grundlagen, Enrdge,Perpetiven, ilies 2007e, pp. do 3 8 aldeshsin 20073, p br, sucicoch ed hd Wil opie th dee amar n Hanoy and Hees es, Herscher und eran Der alias deri hdmmson de Hin Kaos Kl 20799 Wes Mula Peutingeriana, Codes Vndobonenss 324 map volune Kommentar, Graz, 1976. - volume with Pec, MT, ssGreek and Roman potable sundial, An ancient essy in approximation” Archive for Hisiory of Exact Sciences, 55 (2000) 177-87. , 127