National Geographic : 1981 Jun
W ITH INCREDIBLE TOIL and remarkable engineeringskill, road buildersfling the Appia across a brow of the Apennine Mountains.At a time when elaborateroad systems were unknown, the Romans scaled mountains,filled swamps, and crossed plains with highways as straightas a stretched ribbon. Here a surveyor uses an instrument called a groma to sight the most direct course. Slaves, convicts, and soldiers cut and level the roadbed,pound it smooth, and raise a wall. Huge volcanic paving blocks arefitted together without mortar.A crane, upper right, straddles a milestone. By decree, Roman roads were built to lastforever. And the recordis good, as those in use today testify. 718 Antica, or "Ancient Appian Way," that run south from Rome's ancient boundary at the Porta Capena toward the town of Albano. Today 4.5 of these miles are within Rome's city limits. Along the Way you can still ride or walk on patches of the huge green-gray volcanic selce stones that Romans paved with. Ruins of Roman tombs line the Appia because rich Romans coveted burial where NationalGeographic, June 1981 = '