A Brief History of Road Construction

Jan 14 16:11 2012 Dan Thaler Print This Article

Have you ever wondered about the history of road construction? This fascinating subject is vital to the existence of global commerce, and has been ever since the dawn of civilization. Read on to discover information about how people like the Incas, Ancient Romans, and Industrial Revolution era Europeans developed road transportation.

 The concept of the road seems like something that incredibly simple that humans must have had forever,Guest Posting but the history of roads actually involves many technological developments that finally culminated during the European Industrial Revolution. In general roads have followed the maxim that necessity is the mother of invention, and as such their development is usually in line with the civilization or culture that has created them.


Some early types of roads were created by peoples of the Americas, who never developed the wheel like the peoples of the Old World. Despite this, they managed to contribute great things to the history of roads. The roads developed by these peoples were generally made of dirt and used to accommodate their relative lack of stress befitting their civilizations, which had lower population densities compared to the old world. Nevertheless, these transportation systems were incredibly extensive and are still used today in many parts of the world.


Across the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean paved roads quickly became the norm because of the need for more durable methods of transportation and longer trading networks. With the development of the wheel, the history of roads took a decisive leap forward. Humans could now transport things greater distances more efficiently. Different civilizations had inventors who contributed incredible developments to road construction. One civilization, the Minoans, constructed a massive road network on the island of Crete in 2000 BCE which employed sandstone, limestone, and mortar to seal the blocks together. Roads often employed drains to ensure they didn't become clogged with water, and this type of thing can still be seen in the ruins of Roman Pompeii.


Further developments included the discovery of tar paving in classical Iraq in the 700's AD. This ensured a strong and durable material that could withstand the increasing traffic between China and the Middle East at this time. Unfortunately it was made of a non-renewable resource, oil. Further developments in the history of roads would wait until the European Industrial Revolution, who had finally inherited Arabia's scientific achievements by the time of the Renaissance. An understanding of the science behind the massive network of roads the Romans had left behind millennia earlier led to advancements in road strength that culminated in the invention of modern paving in the early 20th century.


Today roads cover most of the planet and are made of a large variety of materials from tarmac, to concrete, to macadam, to cobblestone. There will likely be further developments in the history of roads as our transportation methods improve. It is also possible that we will forgo many of our modern methods as the roads we have now descend into obsolescence with motorized personal transit. It is impossible to know what the future may hold.

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Dan Thaler
Dan Thaler

Dan Thaler is an undergrad history student at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

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