How Did the Ancient Romans Manage to Build Perfectly Straight, Ultra Durable Roads?

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In this video:
The ancient Romans were a people famed for their architectural prowess, something no better demonstrated than by their ability to build almost perfectly straight and incredibly durable roads spanning expansive distances. For example, in Britain alone, the Romans built well over 50,000 miles of roads with the longest ruler-straight stretch spanning over 50 miles. They did all of this in an era without modern surveying tools, construction equipment, or even very accurate maps of precisely where their destination was for many of the areas. So how did they do it?
Want the text version?: www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2019/09/how-did-the-ancient-romans-manage-to-build-perfectly-straight-ultra-durable-roads/
Sources:
www.jstor.org/stable/526811
www.historyrevealed.com/article/international-history/why-did-romans-build-straight-roads
www.ancientpages.com/2017/08/09/ancient-romans-build-many-straight-roads/
www.thevintagenews.com/2015/10/05/do-you-know-why-the-romans-built-straight-roads-now-you-will/
www.romanobritain.org/12_innovations/inv_roads.htm
www.romanobritain.org/12_innovations/inv_roads.htm
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_roads
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Tables
www.romae-vitam.com/roman-roads.html
www.historyhit.com/why-were-roman-roads-so-important-and-who-built-them/
www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-beautiful-network-of-ancient-roman-roads
www.ancient.eu/article/758/roman-roads/
books.google.com/books?id=7Nq25uJOP1oC&pg=PA123&lpg=PA123&dq=Cocceius+tunnel++width+and+height&source=bl&ots=WQ1axPxDk2&sig=ACfU3U1n3OMIL9rJHLllKJrpZah2sBwLxQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjJg7CHtqzkAhV3JzQIHaD2CHIQ6AEwA3oECBgQAQ#v=onepage&q=Cocceius%20tunnel%20%20width%20and%20height&f=false
www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/07/nero-didnt-fiddle-while-rome-burned/
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_roads#Milestones_and_markers
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milliarium_Aureum
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odometer#History
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism
books.google.com/books?id=6iS8BwAAQBAJ&pg=PA39&lpg=PA39&dq=tiberius+traveled+from+rome+to+nero+distance+of+in+24+hours&source=bl&ots=Ei9YkjFyOl&sig=ACfU3U0OZBKl8fhcCbye9FqRUIOph0GM4w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjPsInkjbHkAhVxHDQIHc2jBRAQ6AEwCnoECDMQAQ#v=onepage&q=tiberius%20traveled%20from%20rome%20to%20nero%20distance%20of%20in%2024%20hours&f=false
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PompeiiStreet.jpg

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  • Thanks again to Brilliant for sponsoring this one! If Brilliant sounds interesting to you, please do go help support Todayifoundout using this link: brilliant.org/todayifoundout Thanks!

    Today I Found OutToday I Found Out8 หลายเดือนก่อน
    • I'd say the veiwer was using a business name, "Marble ezy", not "Marb-leesy"

      4D bullshit Patroll4D bullshit Patroll13 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Malavoy L thank you for your reply

      NutsinBrazilNutsinBrazilหลายเดือนก่อน
    • @NutsinBrazil Because the English wouldn't have known what a lyre was. Also, 'lyre' sounds like the English world 'liar' which means 'one who lies', and the structure of the saying would have required them to use 'lyred' which would not have made sense. A fiddle is a name for a violin, but it is also a verb which means 'to touch or fidget in a nervous way', a description of what playing a violin would look like. Hence you can have the saying in English as it is structured with the verb implying the instrument being played, even if there weren't any violins in Nero's time.

      Malavoy LMalavoy Lหลายเดือนก่อน
    • In Portuguese we say that "Nero played the lyre while Rome burned". I don't know why the English version is that he "fiddled".

      NutsinBrazilNutsinBrazilหลายเดือนก่อน
    • Though I'm running across this a bit late, the odometer you refer to was invented by Archimedes. Before the Romans went to war with Sicily, they hired him to develop a way to measure a mile accurately. And as you said, Da Vinci used the description of the device to try to make one, but use the type of gears typical in the renaissance. The triangular toothed gears would have been easier for the ancients to make with a file.

      Malavoy LMalavoy L4 หลายเดือนก่อน
  • The question shouldn't be "How did the Romans build strait roads?" The question should be "Why couldn't anyone else build a strait road?" I am perplexed personally, how there are so many people who don't understand basic mechanical concepts and keep insisting that everything that ancient people did were all so mysterious and impossible to understand. Everything from ancient pyramids to ancient Rome to the Incas and Aztecs and Mayans. Light travels in a mostly strait line so all you have to do is follow light to get a strait road. You should be able to keep any road strait at least on a mile by mile basis to within a few feet using nothing but your eye and a half way decent amount of sunlight barring obstructions that one might have to go around. All you do is eyeball it. You eyeball as far as you can and most people can eyeball a mile or more with 30 seconds of training. Then you go to about half way along that mile and you line up an additional half mile with the half mile remaining ahead of you. This will keep a road strait to within a few hundred feet every mile which while admittedly isn't perfect it is straiter than 90% of all the roads in the US today. Add in one solid marker and track the sun and you can get an even better strait line to within a few feet for every mile. Now you want something damned near perfect you have a line of men a few hundred feet apart from each other for the length of road in question. have every one of them have a marking pole at the ready. Then when the shadow of the sun hits the spot where the road begins then have each and every man in the line mark the road where the shadow hits. Again this isn't perfect and will if long enough result in a curve but for a north to south road it should be pretty strait if everyone is at the same altitude. One can use long poles to correct for altitude if one knows the altitude of each spot which the ancients in Greece had a pretty good handle on thanks to Hipparchus. In fact trigonometry has been used in European construction ever since. Even before Hipparchus came up with trigonometry ancient Greeks, Egyptians and others came up with work arounds.

    nunya bizneznunya biznezชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
    • The longest strait Roman road ever built in the UK is no more than about 50 miles.

      nunya bizneznunya biznezชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Because they built over already established roads from previous civilizations

    JJAK FamilyJJAK Family2 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • If you want a detailed breakdown Metatron a real Italian does good video on Roman roads.

    DancinfanzDancinfanz7 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Many people on the Oregon trail had a tachometer on a wagon wheel to figure distance.

    Scot CoonScot Coon9 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Just think of the technology and knowledge that was lost with the fall of Rome.

    Canned NolanCanned Nolan9 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • They made super durable roads by not driving tractor trailers and other heavy vehicles on them.

    ValkaneerValkaneer17 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • I bring nothing to the table...

    LadyCroMag BuntCitchLadyCroMag BuntCitch2 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • One topic at a time please please, run out topics otherwise

    Beach BoyBeach Boy3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • The roads topic amazing

    Beach BoyBeach Boy3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Watch one of your videos after every wank. (This is true)

    MTF lambda-12MTF lambda-123 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • done without modern tech.. lol we still use string to get straight lines

    chris zagchris zag3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • If the Egyptians could build a four sided pyramid centuries before the Romans built straight roads, meh!

    jerkyturkey007jerkyturkey0074 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • The Romans didn't build any of the things attributed to them.

    RedLikeWaterRedLikeWater4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • The thumbnail image is near my village in Syria

    Modar DaboulModar Daboul5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Dude, Nero's servants STARTED THE FIRE so Nero could rebuild Roma in his own image. The crime solely belonged to him. The early Christian sources are 100% correct and they did not lie. Nero was a MONSTER and whoever excuses his crimes or covers up for him is also a MONSTER.

    Anonymous LibertarianAnonymous Libertarian6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This video has a ton of WRONG INFO. Streets in the city had paved/stone surface,roads were build outside of the city,made of smooth gravel. This is very a common mistake. Roman horses had their feet naked,no horseshoe on Roman horses. Then you have a 5 metric tons (max payload) wooden wheels cart,very massive running all over the Empire. Roman roads are like modern highways,same principals all over the Empire,same methods. Wood wheels do not run over stones fine,like horses with no horseshoe,so no paved roads. Street(via)=stone road=gravel. Roman Roads are truly massive,by far much more impressive than any paved Roman street. Almost every people I know have the same wrong concept in their minds,even well educated people. This subject is well know from centuries,but We still think in stone paved street as Roman roads, those are city streets,thought to walk over it mostly. Most of the true Roman roads are in the middle of nowhere fossilized and buried underground,cos in many places they were unused by centuries. It is something relatively new the discovery of some of this roads,you need a plane and LIDAR images and very good historic clues to find them.

    Jose Moreno PorrasJose Moreno Porras6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • The Christians that were burned is where we get the term "Roman Candle". BTW

    Joey RedmonJoey Redmon7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Technically 'decimated' means to remove 10% of 'something'. It came from an ancient Roman military disciplinary action. If a general et al, was not happy with his troops performance, 10% of them would be killed.

    Joey RedmonJoey Redmon7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • You never said anything about how they made the roads straight. You mentioned how they leveled something, but not how they made a straight path.

    Jeremy BroussardJeremy Broussard7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • *Nerd comment warning*- at 8 mins and 5 seconds you said, "funnily enough" which I wouldn't think twice about BUT you had mentioned during the cast with Davin about words and dictionaries and whatnot that even if it's written in a script you usually go with, "funny enough" because that's what is more natural to you. I'm not bitching, I'm just claiming my spot as an o.g. legend. Haha. As always, good stuff!

    Scottie DScottie D7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • DAMN! The massive amount of planning and work involved in that era just boggles the mind.

    mangojulie123mangojulie1237 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • 5:05 Why is the surveyor in the photo wearing chainmail?

    JustinJustin8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • So basically, Nero was up against the fake news media.. lolol.. damn CNN.

    HafmanHafman8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Those letters between Seneca and Paul are well known to be obvious forgeries written centuries later, so they certainly can’t be taken as any indicator of contemporary reactions to anything.

    MichaelMichael9 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Do massive trucks and high speed vehicles travel on these ancient roads?

    Mike McCaffertyMike McCafferty9 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • @Today I Found Out ...Did you say that "Nero cut the price of corn"? Wasn't corn not even discovered until the discovery of the New World?

    ProBro GoofyProBro Goofy10 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Woah, private Roman roads?

    mtownzachmtownzach10 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • How did the Romans build great roads? Answer: with slave labor. You look at it with different eyes now. A symbol of tyrant and oppression.

    Mike SchardingMike Scharding11 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I bet it had something to do with them not having 1000 tractor trailers per day driving over their roads.

    Mr. PavoneMr. Pavone11 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • What was the weight limit on Roman roads? Less the 40 tons (36,000kg) I bet.

    Piper A RPiper A R13 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Thanks, very much enjoyed this episode.

    Peter M. EggersPeter M. Eggers13 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Because they don't have gas water and electric lines in them . That's why we can't stacked roads

    1rider3 Blue1rider3 Blue14 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • So why can't we build roads this good today?

    David PetersDavid Peters15 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Simon is awesome

    Tommy KriegerTommy Krieger16 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Ugly fact. The romans gave the order to kill Jesus. It wasn’t the Jewish People. Herod was Just a Roman Puppet and fought this idea. But Herod still carried out the death of this man named Jesus

    Laurie HuntleyLaurie Huntley17 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • They didnt have a billion 100,000 lb plus semi's raging at 80+mph all day everyday lol

    Dustin noneyaDustin noneya19 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Oh idk string? Didn't bother watching lol

    Adam HoagueAdam Hoague19 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Couldn't bother to sue metric system?

    balamstudiosbalamstudios19 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This bitch looks like Babish

    Mo moMo mo20 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This is so strange, I'm in Canada and this video isn't blocked! We may pave just to create potholes, but perhaps this will pave the way for using ground compactors more.

    David WaltersDavid Walters21 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This must be Simon's Family Hour version of the video. Although I'm speculating here, I can't imagine that the businesses springing up around the way stations did not also include brothels, given the Roman predilection for the pleasures of the flesh.

    John CampbellJohn Campbell21 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Nero. . . The concept of "urban legend" has a long and noble history.

    Old_GuardOld_Guard21 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Always interesting looking back and observing. You can have a more objective and dispassionate view of things but it will lack something for the audience of course. Which is probably who the original writers were considering or selling to. I’m pretty sure we all knew those historians were looking at the event through a tainted lens however reputable they may have been. The details seems to support the premises of myth and biased against Nero, yet as the time equates with ego, cruel treatment of differing classes and his own apparent questionable mental health; probably he was not exactly fully responsible with his actions of the time. There could’ve been a simple plan put in place to have the fire started while he is away and he comes back to pass himself off as the hero while gaining access to property he needed for his new project? But what information would support that except what came to light years later? Conjecture is always fun, lol. Of course it does make sense the details of opening up his garden for the displaced and performing for them and that becoming the basis for his playing an instrument (that did not exist yet) and watching it burn (there always seems to be at least a little truth within the myth). Anyway, nice job but I guess we still don’t know “the rest of the story” just yet.

    daniel alfieridaniel alfieri24 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • If the Ancient Romans would see our today's roads...

    Luna ImperiaLuna Imperia24 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • They didn’t use cheap Mexican labor.

    C AC A26 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • To mark shap line in terrain you need just sticks that are sharp from top. Just look line back and put third stick in line with previous and continue that.. You can easily make straight line of 10 km..

    Kalle KonttinenKalle Konttinen26 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • All roads lead to Rome

    Touch MeTouch Me28 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Excellent

    moreno francomoreno francoหลายเดือนก่อน
  • The Roman's "borrowed" a lot of these technologies from the lands they conquered, then passed them off as their own. Or more correctly we attribute the romans for inventing these things without doing our homework first.

    BUSTER SIXTEENNINETYBUSTER SIXTEENNINETYหลายเดือนก่อน
    • @SKANDERBEG there where people before the romans, and people they conquered in the Mediterranean smart ass.

      BUSTER SIXTEENNINETYBUSTER SIXTEENNINETY24 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Yeah im sure Romans borrowed technology from tribes in Germany and Gaul lmao

      SKANDERBEGSKANDERBEG24 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Snow plow it let’s see how durable it really is

    Kyle FleetwoodKyle Fleetwoodหลายเดือนก่อน
  • They weren't union and all the guys worked. It wasn't 8 white guys, watching one mexican dig.

    Senior BatmanSenior Batmanหลายเดือนก่อน
  • Sounds like CNN covered that fire with the whole “Nero fiddled” story.

    Gary SnookGary Snookหลายเดือนก่อน
  • I've been to Italy many times and I can tell you they have forgotten about road quality all together

    Herry BellsHerry Bellsหลายเดือนก่อน
  • Seneca's letter to St. Paul seems to be a forgery of the 4th century though.

    fatal_ errorfatal_ errorหลายเดือนก่อน
  • I thought you where vsauce

    Imre HorvathImre Horvathหลายเดือนก่อน
  • Ahhhhhhh, you sad BC not BCE, bell end

    John HeathJohn Heathหลายเดือนก่อน
  • way to stay on topic. NOT

    Earl ZieglerEarl Zieglerหลายเดือนก่อน
  • so basically, CNN has its roots back as far as ancient Rome....

    Jackson RedstarJackson Redstarหลายเดือนก่อน
  • "How did the Romans build straight roads?" Well.. they were not stupid. Just primitive..

    Martin ArvidssonMartin Arvidssonหลายเดือนก่อน
  • Yet my council, with over 2000 years of technological improvement, can't fix the bloody pot holes in my village.

    Voltaic FireVoltaic Fireหลายเดือนก่อน
  • The Romans are a small blip in the history of Britain. Before them is a whole plethora of cultures and the impact that each had on the countryside and topography in general are all well documented. There is good reason to believe that many of the roads attributed to the Romans were already “set out” and being used by the long distant travellers of eras before. The method of laying a straight Walkway, as apposed to building a road, relied upon feelings that relate to water-dowsing, in as much as that the long distance walker was usually a holy-man/ Druid. It has long been established in this country that ley lines are the geodesic compass of these men, and that they traverse this country. Those that were sensitive to the transmissions/ vibrations from natural geological faults, could range the whole country over, with important buildings or markers being erected at important junctions of these ley lines. That the Romans built roads to convey whole armies and their associated wagonloads of (everything), then it is fair to say ‘that they would be cutting of their nose to spite their face’, to not use an already well established line-of-March, so to speak.

    Rick LeibRick Leibหลายเดือนก่อน
  • Not built by the lowest bidder for one thing

    Don NealeDon Nealeหลายเดือนก่อน
  • Gosh. The Romans sound like modern freeway or motorway builders and city planners. It's such a shame that it ended and everyone went backwards in technology.

    LoshLoshหลายเดือนก่อน
  • Is this European vsauce?

    KarterKarterหลายเดือนก่อน
  • It's interesting to me how we see the people of the past so lowly, They're just a bit smarter than we thought.

    Salman RamdaniSalman Ramdaniหลายเดือนก่อน
  • Lloyd Grossman v 2.0

    Adam JonesAdam Jonesหลายเดือนก่อน
  • They didnt get paid to do the bare minimum like the people who built roads in north america. Literally get fucked every winter and the shoulders falling into the ditch. Then they get paid again to patch the mistakes year after year

    Cranberry RipperCranberry Ripperหลายเดือนก่อน
  • Simon your babbling sure can become annoying after a while... do you ever take a breath or time off or read your copy just a little different? Ever?

    Bill HamiltonBill Hamiltonหลายเดือนก่อน
  • So Nero was a victim of fake news.

    Knights EdgeKnights Edgeหลายเดือนก่อน
How Did the Ancient Romans Manage to Build Perfectly Straight, Ultra Durable Roads?