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cinzia8

ancient Roman vehicle dimensions

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Hi all:

 

I've been doing some research into Roman coaches (more specifically a carpentum) and I'm using this model found in a German Museum in Cologne.  I have not been able to find the length and width of this vehicle.  I'm guessing the length to be about 8 feet but the width is tougher. Someone suggested to me the width of a chariot to fit the ruts in the road. It will be traveling the Appian Rd in the 5th century. I'm using this in fiction novel as a coach with perhaps a small bed for a long journey.  Has anyone done any research into this?

 

Something like this was used in Gladiator and recently in The Game of Thrones

 

Thanks,

Cinzia 

 

 

post-4870-0-27771200-1462302601_thumb.jpeg

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A lot of people have suggested that a vehicle was sized to fit a road - actually it's far more likely the vehicle was sized for convenience regarding its chosen means of beast of burden, and the road sized to accommodate such traffic. However, ruts are a good clue if you have that info. Coaches were certainly in use by the Romans - Tacitus mentions a legionary officer in Pannonia who never went anywhere without one. I think for the purposes of fiction you can adopt similar dimensions to more modern vehicles which were effectively designed and used in more or less the same way - that still gives you a fair amount of leeway.

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Thanks, Caldrail.  Good thoughts.  A friend told me that the distance between railroad tracks was patterned after the distance between chariot wheels which I believe is 4.5 feet.  In regard to you mentioning modern day vehicles, coincidentally the other day, I noticed that the width of my SUV from a distance looked similar to this Roman wagon model I've been looking at.  So I measured the front end of my vehicle and it was 5 feet.  To put a sleeping cot in a wagon that would travel the Appian Way, I imagine it would have to be at least 5 feet.  I think it's something a reader will just brush over, but I'm a curious girl and I like my facts. :-)

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AAAARGH!!!!!! The idea that railway tracks were sized to Roman patterns is simply not true. Railway gauges were a matter of experimentation in the early years of steam and the only reason a 'standard gauge' emerged was because many beginning railway companies went with whatever had been successful by people like George Stephenson, allied to an increasing oversight by authorities to ensure smooth cross-country travel.

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in the Alps you have loads of Roman road tracks, here an example in bavaria (via raetia) with two people as reference

 

roemerweg3.jpg

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Wow... That's some serious ruts. The surviving Roman road surfaces in Britain are nothing like as indented as that.

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this is very common in the alps, just a kilometer from were i live we have also a road like this

 

Alte-Roemerstrasse.jpg

 

here the google images for Warmbad (warmbaths) near Villach my hometown. (as you can see there are hot springs, and were hot springs were, Romans were not far away ;)

 

https://www.google.at/search?q=warmbad+r%C3%B6merstrasse&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjFnZ75jMbMAhUG2xoKHdTIDdgQ_AUICCgC&biw=1152&bih=535&dpr=1.25#imgrc=pM-UQhqIAoQpgM%3A

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this is very common in the alps, just a kilometer from were i live we have also a road like this

 

Alte-Roemerstrasse.jpg

 

here the google images for Warmbad (warmbaths) near Villach my hometown. (as you can see there are hot springs, and were hot springs were, Romans were not far away ;)

 

https://www.google.at/search?q=warmbad+r%C3%B6merstrasse&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjFnZ75jMbMAhUG2xoKHdTIDdgQ_AUICCgC&biw=1152&bih=535&dpr=1.25#imgrc=pM-UQhqIAoQpgM%3A

Viggen:  It's so cool that you live around these ancient tracks.  They are really deep. So, two men side by side = 4 feet?  The wheels on that covered wagon look wider to me but the cabin is smaller in width.  I can't imagine traveling for days (especially older people) in something too small. I'm annoyed that this picture is posted on the German museum for Roman artifacts but there's no place that I could see any text that appeared to give an explanation of their replica. If I post the link, could you possibly take a quick look to see if anything is there? I cannot read German. 

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this is very common in the alps, just a kilometer from were i live we have also a road like this

 

Alte-Roemerstrasse.jpg

 

here the google images for Warmbad (warmbaths) near Villach my hometown. (as you can see there are hot springs, and were hot springs were, Romans were not far away ;)

 

https://www.google.at/search?q=warmbad+r%C3%B6merstrasse&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjFnZ75jMbMAhUG2xoKHdTIDdgQ_AUICCgC&biw=1152&bih=535&dpr=1.25#imgrc=pM-UQhqIAoQpgM%3A

Viggen:  It's so cool that you live around these ancient tracks.  They are really deep. So, two men side by side = 4 feet?  The wheels on that covered wagon look wider to me but the cabin is smaller in width.  I can't imagine traveling for days (especially older people) in something too small. I'm annoyed that this picture is posted on the German museum for Roman artifacts but there's no place that I could see any text that appeared to give an explanation of their replica. If I post the link, could you possibly take a quick look to see if anything is there? I cannot read German. 

 

 

 

sure, go ahead...

 

btw. there is a currently  a "Roman" exhibition in my local musuem, i probably only have time to go in June, but i can ask if they have exact measurements of the tracks...

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Viggen:

 

Here is the link to the museum in Cologne.  When I look at that coach (which will be pictured on the museum's website) they look wider than the road tracks and the coach's cabin.  And yes, if you visit your local museum in June, if you come across any information about vehicle proportions, please inquire.  As you may already know, there were a variety of different sized vehicles like we see in our cars today.  When I was walking toward my SUV the other morning, it struck me that from a distance I was reminded of the image of the Roman coach. Haha. :-)

 

http://www.museenkoeln.de/roemisch-germanisches-museum/pages/4.aspx?s=4

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...i didnt find anything on the coaches at that website.... :(

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Thanks for checking!!  This note was in my email notification from you, but I don't see it here.

 

[btw. here is a Roman coach also from around my neck of the woods, so two horses seems to be the standard even though the tracks seem quite narrow..

its from Maria Saal (near Virunum) and that slab is reused in the outside wall of the catholic Dome...]

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i was deleting that post shortly afterwards when i realized it wasnt an actual coach but a "symbolic" coach for the dead person inside the coach going to the afterlife. So they might have modelled it on "existing coaches" at the time but its artistic and not an actual coach model...

 

here the image again

Maria_Saal_Dom_Grabbaurelief_Reisewagen_

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It may be symbolic, but the artist (artists) had to have a point of reference.  It's very nice to look at. Thank you for all this information. It really is quite helpful. :-) Cinzia   

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