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Early Roman rail chariot


Brian Harrap

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Allegedly, but more akin to what comes out of them!...

Not to mention the fact that chariots were comparatively rare and specialised military or racing vehicles. Surviving ruts, however spaced, were almost certainly produced by mundane transport vehicles, i.e. carts of varying sizes.

 

Nick

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Not to mention the fact that chariots were comparatively rare and specialised military or racing vehicles. Surviving ruts, however spaced, were almost certainly produced by mundane transport vehicles, i.e. carts of varying sizes.

 

Nick

 

Agreed, but not with the use of "produced by". I believe it is "produced for". There is a huge science about these Roman "ruts". My understanding is that they are not an artefact of use, but were deliberately provided to guide the wagons through restricted spaces, such as gateways - a railway.

 

Paul Bartlett

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There has indeed been much debate ever since they were first noticed by early antiquaries, but I would hardly call it "huge science". Much of it has been poorly-informed speculation by those with little understanding of the archaeological context of what they see. Hence some of the nonsense referred to by others above. Probably, the answer is a bit of both "produced by" and "produced for". Most surviving surfaces or subsurfaces from roman gateways actually show only a broad pattern of wear indicating that there was little to constrain the positions of cart wheels. In other cases the wear is confined to a narrow area and results from constraining wheels to pass through narrow gaps between stone blocks and bollards used to protect the edge of the gateway. Here, most of the visible wear is to either side of the block positions and so is certainly "produced by". Often the blocks have been removed at a later date and, being no longer extant, leave the impression to either side of narrow "produced for" ruts. I've yet to see clear evidence of anything that can be called a proto-plateway or proto-railway.

 

Some examples: the Porta Maggiore in Rome where the light coloured blocks in the foreground may have initially been shaped for guidance of wheels, note the wear pattern in the basalt block paving beyond.

 

An urban crossroads in Pompeii with bollards and stepping stones which would act to constrain wheel positions:

 

post-6746-0-03440400-1336227056.jpg

 

And finally, another of Porta Maggiore, though here I believe the guidance is of a somewhat later date :O

 

Nick

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Actually, that probably means we should ask that this thread moves to 'Overseas Prototype'. We now have to hope for the excavators to get lucky as they did with the Trireme patterns in the boatbuilder's floor at Piraeus, and find the vehicle building shop for the Diolkos, with its set of templates for the structural parts carved into the stone floor. Then it's a green light for modelling...

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Not to mention the fact that chariots were comparatively rare and specialised military or racing vehicles.

The Romans didn't use chariots for warfare. They were technologically obsolete by around 700BC and had long since been replaced by cavalry. The Romans only used them for triumphal processions and racing.

 

Cheers

David

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The Romans didn't use chariots for warfare. They were technologically obsolete by around 700BC and had long since been replaced by cavalry. The Romans only used them for triumphal processions and racing.

Quite so, David. I certainly didn't mean to imply by "specialised military" that they were used for fighting, though they appear to have various military ceremonial uses beyond triumphal processions. They had certainly been obsolete for fighting purposes in the Mediterranean and Near East by the time the Romans started their colonial expansion, though had been used for fighting by Greeks, Egyptians, Assyrians, etc. However, they continued to be used by some northern barbarians and Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars includes a detailed descripion of how they were used in Britain.

 

Nick

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Quite so, David. I certainly didn't mean to imply by "specialised military" that they were used for fighting, though they appear to have various military ceremonial uses beyond triumphal processions. They had certainly been obsolete for fighting purposes in the Mediterranean and Near East by the time the Romans started their colonial expansion, though had been used for fighting by Greeks, Egyptians, Assyrians, etc. However, they continued to be used by some northern barbarians and Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars includes a detailed descripion of how they were used in Britain.

 

Nick

Chariots went out of fashion when larger horses were bred. Those places were war chariots were still in use did not have any large horses available. The Ancient Britons for example the largest animal available was the Exmoor pony.
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A fun topic.

 

/wag_mode_on

Clearly the Stephensons and their contemporaries were classical scholars of the first order and familar enough with ancient Greek portages to have measured them with a precision <½".

/wag_mode_off

 

I was pleased to see some very cogent discussion on the Wikipedia standard gauge page.

 

I liked the assertion that the extra ½" was added to eliminate binding on curves, and 4'8"? An 'orse's rump qualifies as well as anything.

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The recently deceased A. Trevor Hodge, professor of Classics and Classical Engineering writes here.

http://www.grijalvo.com/A_Trevor_Hodge/Roman_roads_gauge.htm

(He was a rail enthusiast as well. He wrote a mystery story to make up for the railway errors in Agatha Christie. http://www.trevorscolumn.com/?page_id=18 )

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