The Roman Empire’s Roads In Transit Map Form
View the high resolution version of the map by clicking here.
Unless you’re a historian or map buff, interpreting a map of the Roman Empire can be a daunting exercise. Place names are unfamiliar and roads meander across the landscape making it difficult to see the connections between specific cities and towns.
Today’s visualization, by Sasha Trubetskoy, has mashed-up two enduring obsessions – transit maps and Ancient Rome – to help us understand the connection between Rome and its sprawling empire.
At the height of the Roman Empire, there were approximately 250,000 miles (400,000 km) of roads, stretching from Northern England to Egypt and beyond. This impressive network is what allowed Rome to exercise control and communicate effectively over such a large territory.
For a detailed look at travel times and costs, check out Stanford’s amazing ORBIS platform. The screenshot below shows the fastest, cheapest, and shortest routes between the settlement of Lutetia (the predecessor of present-day Paris) and Roma.
There were three main types of roads in Ancient Rome:
Viae publicae: Public highways or main roads, typically maintained by the military. These were the main, paved arteries of the empire and often included infrastructure such as drainage, milestones, and way stations.
Viae privatae: Private or country roads were financed by wealthy individuals to connect towns and other noteworthy points to the viae publicae.
Viae vicinales: These tertiary (often dirt) roads connected villages and areas within districts, eventually linking to the larger network.
This network of roads was vital as it allowed for quick troop movement as well as the development of a mail system. As the first major road network in Europe, the Romans quite literally laid the foundation for development across the continent.
There’s something alluring about Rome’s ability to carve out such a huge and advanced empire, with a legacy that lasts today.
– Sasha Trubetskoy
The Enduring Influence of Roman Roads
London, Paris, Barcelona, and countless other major cities sprang from Roman settlements along the road network, and even as Europe descended into the Dark Ages (476-800 CE), Roman roads remained as one of few functioning modes of movement and communication. A recent study even points out that proximity to that foundational network of roads even has a strong correlation with economic activity today.
Beyond mere curiosity or entertainment, looking back at Roman ingenuity allows us to see the impact their road network had on today’s world. That enduring influence is one of the reasons ancient Rome still fascinates us to this day.
For more reading, check out Trubetskoy’s followup, Roman Roads of Britain.
The Emissions Impact of Coronavirus Lockdowns, As Shown by Satellites
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been all-consuming, these satellite images show its unintended environmental impacts on NO₂ emissions.
The Emissions Impact of Coronavirus Lockdowns
There’s a high chance you’re reading this while practicing social distancing, or while your corner of the world is under some type of advised or enforced lockdown.
While these are necessary measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, such economic interruption is unprecedented in many ways—resulting in some surprising side effects.
The Evidence is in NO₂ Emissions
Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) emissions, a major air pollutant, are closely linked to factory output and vehicles operating on the road.
As both industry and transport come to a halt during this pandemic, NO₂ emissions can be a good indicator of global economic activity—and the changes are visible from space.
These images from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), as well as satellite footage from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), show a drastic decline in NO₂ emissions over recent months, particularly across Italy and China.
NO₂ Emissions Across Italy
In Italy, the number of active COVID-19 cases has surpassed China (including the death toll). Amid emergency actions to lock down the entire nation, everything from schools and shops, to restaurants and even some churches, are closed.
Italy is also an industrial hub, with the sector accounting for nearly 24% of GDP. With many Italians urged to work from home if possible, visible economic activity has dropped considerably.
This 10-day moving average animation (from January 1st—March 11th, 2020) of nitrogen dioxide emissions across Europe clearly demonstrates how the drop in Italy’s economic activity has impacted the environment.
Source: European Space Agency (ESA)
That’s not all: a drop in boat traffic also means that Venice’s canals are clear for the time being, as small fish have begun inhabiting the waterways again. Experts are cautious to note that this does not necessarily mean the water quality is better.
NO₂ Emissions Across China
The emissions changes above China are possibly even more obvious to the eye. China is the world’s most important manufacturing hub and a significant contributor to greenhouse gases globally. But in the month following Lunar New Year (a week-long festival in early February), satellite imagery painted a different picture.
Source: NASA Earth Observatory
NO₂ emissions around the Hubei province, the original epicenter of the virus, steeply dropped as factories were forced to shutter their doors for the time being.
What’s more, there were measurable effects in the decline of other emission types from the drop in coal use during the same time, compared to years prior.
Back to the Status Quo?
In recent weeks, China has been able to flatten the curve of its total COVID-19 cases. As a result, the government is beginning to ease its restrictions—and it’s clear that social and economic activities are starting to pick back up in March.
Source: European Space Agency (ESA)
With the regular chain of events beginning to resume, it remains to be seen whether NO₂ emissions will rebound right back to their pre-pandemic levels.
This bounce-back effect—which can sometimes reverse any overall drop in emissions—is [called] “revenge pollution”. And in China, it has precedent.
—Li Shuo, Senior climate policy advisor, Greenpeace East Asia
Where Are the Oldest Companies in Existence?
Which companies have stood the test of time? This detailed map highlights the oldest company in every country that is still in business.
Where Are the Oldest Companies in Existence?
View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here.
In just a few decades, it’s possible that some of today’s most recognized companies may no longer be household names.
Corporate longevity, or the average lifespan of a company, has been shrinking dramatically.
In the 1960s, a typical S&P 500 company was projected to last for more than 60 years. However, with the rapidly transforming business landscape today, it’s down to just 18 years.
The Companies With the Strongest Staying Power
Even with companies skewing younger, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Luckily, many companies around the world have stood the test of time, and today’s detailed map from Business Financing highlights the oldest company in existence in each country.
For centuries, here are the world’s oldest corporations which have made their mark:
|578||Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd.||Japan||Construction|
|803||St. Peter Stifts Kulinarium||Austria||Service Industry (Restaurant)|
|862||Staffelter Hof||Germany||Distillers, Vintners, & Breweries (Winery)|
|864||Monnaie de Paris||France||Manufacturing & Production (Mint)|
|886||The Royal Mint||England||Manufacturing & Production (Mint)|
|900||Sean’s Bar||Ireland||Service Industry (Pub)|
|1040||Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli||Italy||Manufacturing & Production (Bell foundry)|
|1074||Affligem Brewery||Belgium||Distillers, Vintners, & Breweries|
|1135||Munke Mølle||Denmark||Manufacturing & Production (Flour Mill)|
|1153||Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken House||China||Service Industry (Restaurant)|
Whether they were born out of necessity to support a rapidly growing population—requiring new infrastructure and more money circulation—or simply to satisfy peoples’ thirst for alcohol or hunger for fried chicken, these companies continue to play a lasting role.
The Oldest Company in Every Country, by Region
Let’s dive into the regional maps, which paint a different picture for each continent.
In the following maps, countries are color-coded based on the major industry that the oldest company falls under:
- Primary: Natural resources
- Secondary: Manufacturing and processing
- Tertiary: Services and distribution
- Quaternary: Knowledge and information
Notes on Methodology:
This research considers both state-run and independent businesses in their definitions. For countries where data was hard to pin down, they have been grayed out.
As well, since many countries have a relatively new inception, present-day names and borders have been used. The map does not factor in older companies that are no longer in operation, or if it was unclear whether they were still open.
Click here to explore the full research methodology.
Mexico’s La Casa de Moneda de México (founded 1534) is the oldest company across North America, and the first mint of America. Owned by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, it was where the famous ‘pieces of eight’, or Spanish dollars were created.
In the U.S., the Shirley Plantation in Virginia is an ongoing reminder of the history of slavery. First founded in 1613, business actually began in 1638—and as many as 90 slaves were under indentured labor on the estate growing tobacco.
Further north, Canada’s Hudson’s Bay (founded 1670) was at the helm of the fur trade between European settlers and First Nations tribes—the two parties agreed on beaver pelts as a common, valuable trade standard.
Three of the five oldest companies in South America are mints—specifically in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.
The oldest of these mints, Casa Nacional de Moneda in Peru, was built on order from Spain and established in 1565. After the great influx of newly-mined silver from America to Europe, the Spanish crown outlined to King Felipe II that building a mint would give the colony economic benefits and more control.
In total, 15 of Europe’s oldest companies are related to the food and beverage industries, from distilleries, vintners (winemaking), and breweries alongside restaurants and pubs. Austria’s St. Peter Stifts Kulinarium (founded in 803) is Europe’s oldest restaurant, located inside the St. Peter’s Abbey monastery.
Although Germany is famously known for its beer culture, its oldest company is in fact the Staffelter Hof Winery (founded in 862). Today, Germany is still a top wine country, with the industry generating up to $17 billion in revenue per year.
Asia has six oldest companies in the banking and finance category, as well as another six in the aviation and transport sector. The continent is also home to two of the world’s oldest companies, located in Japan and China.
The Japanese temple and shrine construction company, Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd. (founded in 578) has weathered a few storms over the millennia, from nuclear bombs to financial crises. In 2006, it was bought by the construction conglomerate, Takamatsu Construction Group Co., and continues to operate today.
In neighboring China, Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken House has endured dynasties of change as well. The company’s simple premise has come a long way, and it was named a cultural heritage in the country’s Henan Province.
Africa’s oldest companies are another vestige of the colonial legacy, with 11 transport companies—airlines, ports and shipping, and railways—and 9 postal services.
In fact, Cape Verde’s Correios de Cabo Verde (postal service, founded in 1849) and the DRC’s Société nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo (national railway company, founded in 1889) still go by their Portuguese and French names respectively.
Banking is another one of the oldest industries, with 17 companies across Africa. Zimbabwe’s Standard Chartered branch has been around since 1892, a subsidiary of its London-based parent company.
Australia officially became a country on January 1st, 1901—but its oldest company, the Australia Post (founded in 1809) precedes this by almost a century.
Interestingly, just one more old company could be located for this region, which is the Bank of New Zealand—one of the country’s Big Four banks.
All in all, these oldest companies paint a historical picture of the major industries which have shaped entire regions.
Did you recognize any on the list?
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