AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

How long did it take to walk from Philadelphia to Damascus during Roman times?



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The Roman road in Um Qaiss, the ancient city of Gadara

Living in Jordan means we get to walk on a lot of ancient Roman roads. Some way or another, the Romans built roads thousands of years ago that function better today than the roads the Jordanian government built last year. That’s the first irony.

The second irony is even better. Gadara was some sort of important cultural hub in the ancient world. It produced a number of notable people, according to Wikipedia, at least:

“Gadara was once called the “city of philosophers”. Among others, Gadara was home to:
Menippus of Gadara (3rd Century BCE), the Cynic satirist
Meleager of Gadara (1st Century BCE), the Cynic poet
Philodemus of Gadara (1st Century BCE), the Epicurean philosopher and poet
Theodorus of Gadara (1st Century BCE), the orator
Oenomaus of Gadara (2nd Century CE), the Cynic philosopher
Apsines of Gadara (3rd Century CE), the rhetorician
Philo of Gadara, the mathematician”

Can you imagine? Our desolate, rural North, home of philosophers, rhetors, mathematicians, and Cynic poets.

I know it was thousands of years ago, but it still feels like it must have been a parallel universe.

Anyhow, I somehow stumbled upon this amazing tool that shows you travel time between different ancient Roman cities.

For example, from Philadelphia (Amman) to Roma (Rome), it would have taken only 22 days on foot, and 19 days in a carriage. Meanwhile, from Amman to Gadara (Um Qais), it would take less than half a day.

Check it out here.

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3 Comments

  1. Well at least we’ve retained the ‘cynic’ as cultural identity.

  2. hi Roba, I hate to pour cold water on a great idea, but they’ve got something wrong. They say Philadelphia (Amman) to Gadara (Umm Qais) is 24km. Er, nope. Looks like they’ve got Gadara in the wrong place… Anyway, it takes “less than half a day” to do the journey right now, driving! :) But yes, Gadara sounds like it was an amazing place, back in the day. You can imagine it, right? With the fresh air, the forest, the views, the sweet water, the hot springs just down the hill for bathing… what a place for great thoughts, great writing, poetry and culture…

  3. Hehe you’re right, I didn’t think of that!

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