Romit Science

La Tabula Peutingeriana. A Description of the Ancient World Part 2

Studying the details of the map more closely, the use of precise colouring to highlight the physical elements are noted; yellow for the earth, black as the border of the earth and most written descriptions, red for the principal roads (cursus publicus), green for seas, lakes and rivers, yellowy grey and pink for the mountain ranges and the ideograms and vignettes that show the presence of inhabited centres or where the roads divide showing a secondary road that is shown at its start but does not continue on the map.

Certain elements emerge from the palaeographic studies of the map that suggest additions have been made to it at different times. A clear example of this can be seen in the representation of the three principal cities; Rome, Antioch and Constantinople. The symbology and representation of the bird’s eye view of the city walls of these three cities take us to mediaeval times (XI-XII or XII-XIII centuries). Apart from this, the general conception of the map, its composition and precise geographic indications show that its origins are during Roman times.

Those studying the map do not agree though on the exact date of origin of the mediaeval copy from the original Roman copy; the dates oscillate between the III and IV centuries A.D. The historian, Luciano Bosio (1.), believes that the map represents an  itinerarium pictum that over the centuries data has been added to or changed thereby becoming important with regards to the road and political systems of the Roman Empire. Three changes can be seen; during the Augustus period (in relation to the reconstruction of the cursus publicus), the Severian period (connected to a great reorgnaisation of the preceding Augustus cursus publicus) and that of the IV century as indicated by certain elements of the map that connect with certainty to the increasing diffusion of christianism and also added to during the VIII-IX centuries A.D., until the actual mediaeval copy.

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