Roads back in time
I’ve always thought that blacktop paving was something of a new phenomenon. Frankly, I have to admit that I was under the impression that the stuff didn’t even become popular until the advent of the motor car, when the need for smooth road surfaces started to require the sort of material that could be paved cheaply and effectively. What? I spend too much time thinking about these sorts of things sometimes. I just can’t help it.
It was that train of thought that took me to the web just to find out if I was right about blacktop paving being used in modern times. surprisingly I found out that I wasn’t one hundred percent correct. You see, blacktop paving is also known as asphalt and, as it turns out, that has been used for hundreds of years. Long before the first cars came into being.
Granted it probably wasn’t the same stuff and certainly wouldn’t have been as refined as the material; we use today, but still it came as something of a surprise to me that cultures as ancient as the Babylonians and Greeks used it to build their roads as well. I couldn’t find anything about the Romans but I’m sure they must have tipped their troughs into the asphalt well a few times. After all, they were known for their roads and all.
So asphalt has been in used since literally before the time of Christ, which sounded crazy to me at first. Still, as it turns out there are ancient depictions of road laying during those eras that bear a striking, if ancient, resemblance to the sort of stuff you see modern road builders doing today.
I have to admit that I was fascinated. Again granted it surely wasn’t the same sort of blacktop paving that we are all used to and much of it will have degraded over time. After all, with more than a millennia of use I think any road would be worse for wear.
Still in all of it I gained a newfound respect for ancient cultures. I’ve always been interested in the discoveries made by those who lived centuries, or even millennia, before we ended up making it here and now. In particular I’ve always had something of a fondness for Greek culture and the ancient pantheon of the gods. With the discovery that they were advanced enough to be using asphalt on their roads, and that these same materials are still being used hundreds of years later, I couldn’t help but gain just a little bit more respect for the accomplishments of these ancient civilizations.