Roman carriages

Roman carriages, an ancient travel

Roman carriagesIn fact, there were a number of different roman carriages types. More than that, there were names for them, which cannot, interestingly enough, be brought in conjunction with the actual appearance of the carriages.

Unpopular seats

Roman carriages were not very popular – not by those who used them, nor the ones that suffered from the noise of the iron-shod wheels on the basalt pavement, especially at night. Even though the road system had developed very well the drivers of the carriages still suffered considerable hardships and had to be patient.

Roman carriages – and now fast

The average speed was about five miles per hour, or about 7.5 km / hour There was a day driving ban in the fashionable seaside resort of Baiae or in the capital city of Rome so the strepitus rotarum (noise of the wheels) focused on the hours of the night and terrorized many residents with insomnia.

Goods for Roman carriages ”without toll”

Romans mostly used the plaustrum (plostrum) and the carus for the transport of goods. The plaustrum was a two-wheeled, heavy lorry, usually drawn by two oxen, which was usually on disc wheels with iron rings. It was used in the agriculture to transport important foods such as olive oil, wine, cereals, fruits and vegetables into the cities. In addition, building materials and rubbish were carried away with it as well. The sometimes mentioned sarracum probably only slightly differed from the plaustrum maybe because it could carry heavier loads.

The carrus a, with oxen, horses or mules, strung elongated wagon with four large spoke wheels. Both sides could fold down. Sometimes he was converted to the covered wagon, but usually remained open the cargo area. The Roman carriages carrus served in both civil and military transportation of goods of all kinds, partly lashed with nets and protected with covers from the dust of the road.

Roman carriages as a coach   

Roman carriageThe rheda Carruca dominated in people travel business amongs the four-wheel cars. Whomever was traveling with luggage and in company, chose the robust rheda, a vehicle type that the Romans had taken over from the Gauls. The traveler sat with four to six people on opposite or successively arranged benches, in the front was the driver (mulio). The heavy roman carriages was run with two or four horses. Up to ten mules or donkeys were used for the Roman carriages when the roads were bad or the legally established maximum load of 1000 pounds (330 kg) was exceeded – which happened often enough. The less comfortable Rhedae rarely had a hood. In addition, it was slow, because of their severity. Nevertheless, they were high in demand as a rental roman carriages - certainly also because of their reliability. That Caesar once travelled in a rheda over several days – of course at constant exchange of draft animals – with a daily distance of 150 kilometers, was considered a record “incredible speed” (Suetonius Caes 57th). The Norm was around 36 miles per day.

Fast, faster, Carruca … 

In a sense, the Porsche of the rheda was the Carruca. Two passengers had plenty of space on the backseat. The coachman sat on the front seat. These Roman carriages (Carruca) were often used by high officials for business trips and these carrucae were accordingly decorated with reliefs and bronze and silver applications. Covers made of leather or canvas carrucae dormitoriae (sleep carrucae) were great protection against weather and dirt and possessed some means of an elastic structure made of metal straps and leather straps with a suspension attached to the body of the carriages. This was an added plus to the comfort that were very appreciated versions of a “Nobel Car” for the rich and powerful. The carpentum was the distinguished model under the two-wheeled chariot, one with two mules with a vaulted roof covered Roman carriages (Currus arcuatus) in which often women drove – female members of the imperial family as well as ladies of the demi-monde of the caliber of Cynthia, which had silk padded carpentum borrowed from a wealthy admirer (Prop. IV, 8, 23).

The luxury class, the convertible

The essedum was available for fast travel to Overland or simple joy rides, it was a product derived from the Gallo-Britannic chariot easily opened carriages for two people. This Roman carriages was was usually also driven by a coachman, but it was also common for one of the travelers to take the reins himself. An even lighter and therefore faster “convertible” was the CISIUM. The traveler could direct it himself, as well as the related covinnus. Increased speed was even then very typical for the profession in the cisiarius (professional driver).

Since traveling was always bumpy, difficult and long-winded at that time the dilapidated Emperor Claudius had his touring car rebuilt into a game room that was secured with technical devices so even with the dice do not become a mess with the poor road conditions. (Suetonius Claud . 33, 2).

QQ to roman carriages  : Prop. IV 8, 20 ff.; Hor. Sat. I 5; Verg. Catl. 8, 1 ff.; Ov. am. II 16, 49 ff.; Mart. III 47; III 72; XII 24; Juv. III 232 ff.; VIII 146 ff.; Cod. Theod. VIII 5; 8; Isid. Etym. XX 12; CIL I 206, 56 ff.

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