Antonine Itinerary

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The Antonine Itinerary (Latin: Antonini Itinerarium, lit. "The Itinerary of Antoninus") is a famous itinerarium, a register of the stations and distances along various roads. Seemingly based off official documents, possibly from a survey carried out under Augustus,[1] it describes the roads of the Roman Empire. Owing to the scarcity of other extant records of this type, it is a valuable historical record[2] despite almost nothing being known of its date or author. Scholars consider it likely that the original edition was prepared at the beginning of the 3rd century: although it is traditionally ascribed to the patronage of the 2nd-century Antoninus Pius, the oldest extant copy has been assigned to the time of Diocletian and the most likely imperial patron—if the work had one—would have been Caracalla.[2]

Iter Britanniarum[edit]

Iter Britanniarum, imagined as a road map. The plotted routes and stations are approximations.

The British section is known as the Iter Britanniarum, and can be described as the 'road map' of Roman Britain. There are 15 such itineraries in the document.

The itinerary measures distances in Roman miles, where 1,000 Roman paces equals one Roman mile. A Roman pace was two steps, left plus right. Roman paces were not everywhere the same, and conversion to modern units is imprecise, but 1 Roman mile approximately equals 4,690 feet, or 1430 m.

Examples[edit]

Below is the original Latin for sites along route 13,[3] followed by a translation with a possible (but not necessarily authoritative) name for the modern sites.[4] A transcriber omitted an entry, so that the total number of paces does not equal the sum of paces between locations.

Iter XIII (Itinerary 13)
Item ab Isca Calleva mpm cviiii sic A route from Isca Silurum to Calleva Atrebatum 109,000 paces thus
Burrio mpm viii Usk, Monmouthshire, 8,000 paces
Blestio mpm xi Monmouth, Monmouthshire 11,000 paces
Ariconio mpm xi Bury Hill, Weston under Penyard, Herefordshire 11,000 paces
Clevo mpm xv Gloucester, Gloucestershire 15,000 paces
(no entry) perhaps Corinium Dobunnorum at modern Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Durocornovio mpm xiiii perhaps Wanborough, Wiltshire 14,000 paces
Spinis mpm xv Speen, Berkshire 15,000 paces
Calleva mpm xv Silchester, Hampshire 15,000 paces

Below is the original Latin for route 14[5] followed by a translation with a possible (but not necessarily authoritative) name for the modern site.[4]

Iter XIV (Itinerary 14)
Item alio itinere ab Isca Calleva mpm ciii sic An alternate route from Isca Silurum to Calleva Atrebatum 103,000 paces thus
Venta Silurum mpm viiii Caerwent, Monmouthshire 9,000 paces
Abone mpm xiiii Sea Mills, Gloucestershire 14,000 paces
Traiectus mpm viiii perhaps Bitton, near Willsbridge, Gloucestershire 9,000 paces
Aquis Solis mpm vi Bath, Somerset 6,000 paces
Verlucione mpm xv Sandy Lane, Wiltshire 15,000 paces
Cunetione mpm xx Mildenhall, Wiltshire 20,000 paces
Spinis mpm xv Speen, Berkshire 15,000 paces
Calleva mpm xv Silchester, Hampshire 15,000 paces

A confounding factor[edit]

De Situ Britanniae (made available c. 1749, published 1757) was a forgery that provided much spurious information on Roman Britain, including "itineraries" that overlapped the legitimate Antonine Itineraries, sometimes with contradicting information. Its authenticity was not seriously challenged until 1845, and it was still cited as an authoritative source until the late nineteenth century. By then, its false data had infected almost every account of ancient British history, and been adopted into the Ordnance Survey maps,[6] as General Roy and his successors believed it to be a legitimate source of information, on a par with the Antonine Itineraries. While no longer cited when its authenticity became indefensible, the data from this document was not systematically removed from past and present works.

Some authors, such as Thomas Reynolds, without challenging the authenticity of the forgery, took care to note its discrepancies and challenge the quality of its information.[7][8] This was not always so, even after the forgery was debunked.

Hispania[edit]

Hispania roads.

Gonzalo Arias (died 2008) proposed that some of the distance anomalies in the British section of the Antonine Itinerary resulted from the loss of Latin grammatical endings, which marked junctions heading towards places, as distinct from the places themselves.[9] However, Arias may not have taken account of earlier work indicating that distances were measured between the edges of administrative areas of named settlements as opposed to centre-to-centre, thereby explaining supposed distance shortfalls and providing additional useful data on the approximate sizes of such areas.[10]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed. 1911.
  2. ^ a b Chisholm 1910:148 Antonini Itinerarium.
  3. ^ Parthey 1848:232–33 in Britannia
  4. ^ a b Codrington 1918, In Roman Roads in Britain
  5. ^ Parthey 1848:233 in Britannia
  6. ^ Redmonds, George (2004), Names and History: People, Places and Things, Hambledon & London, pp. 65–68, ISBN 1-85285-426-X  A Major Place-Name Ignored
  7. ^ Reynolds 1799 Iter Britanniarum
  8. ^ Dyer 1816 Vulgar Errors, Ancient and Modern
  9. ^ For most Roman roads in Hispania, see Gonzalo Arias. "El Miliario Extravagante". Retrieved 2012-08-27. . Cf. also his Grammar in the Antonine Itinerary: A Challenge to British Archaeologists (available in only a few libraries).
  10. ^ Cf. Rodwell, "Milestones, Civic Territories and the Antonine Itinerary", 6 Britannia 76-101 (1975).

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]