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  • Writer's pictureArpit Shah

Revisit the Roman Empire with Orbis

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

From my Twitter feed, I got to know about this wonderful mapping initiative "Orbis: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman Empire" which can be accessed from -

Stanford Orbis interface
Figure 1: Orbis' Application Interface

Essentially, it shows us how big an achievement it would have been to run a Roman empire spanning 3 continents. 600+ historical sites and 1000+ historical maritime routes have been mapped and forms a part of this navigation computation system which factors in granular information such as wind speed and wave height prevalent at that time. Not only can one see how long would it have taken to travel from Point A to Point B using the modes of travel available at that time (donkey, carriage, ship and eleven more), but also one can see how expensive it would have been to make that journey (in local currency denarii) i.e. both the time and cost parameters are taken into consideration.

Route Optimization - for the Roman Empire!
Figure 2: Route Optimization - for the Roman Empire! Source: Stanford's Orbis

One can only imagine the effort gone into making this mapping project a reality. At a basic level, it is like a computer game to play around with, for the history aficionados (click on Start Exploring the Roman World to begin). At a Geographic Information System (GIS) level, Orbis demonstrates how beautifully one can assimilate complex transport and network data onto a palatable visual illustration i.e. a map. I presume the Romans would have loved to see this and determine the most time and cost-efficient way to move their army or to transport their food grains across continents!

Have fun exploring Orbis. Reach out to us for your Location Analytics & Siting requirements applicable for the 21st century, though. Details below-



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