Picture courtesy of Radoslaw Botev
The Via Appia (known commonly as the Appian Way) was the Roman Republic's first and most important long road built for military purposes such as transporting military supplies and troops. It was named after Appius Claudius, a censor who was in the habit of beginning public works projects without first consulting with the Senate. The first section of the Appian road was completed in 312 B.C. Over the years, the Way was extended and ultimately connected Rome to the Adriatic port city of Brindisi in southeast Italy.
The Romans became experts at constructing roads like the Appian Way. To construct a road, they first leveled the road's surface then placed small pebbles on it. After covering the pebbles with mortar, a rough gravel was placed on top of this base. Stones, which fit tightly together, were then placed on the road to provide its ultimate surface. Roman roads came with a slightly raised section in the middle so that water could run off easily.
All roads that began in the city of Rome received a label with a master list of destinations along its particular route. This labeling eventually led to the popular phrase "All roads lead to Rome."
Perhaps the most well known event on the Appian road, the 'queen' of Rome's long roads, involved the ex-gladiator Spartacus. His life story, in 1960, was made into a very popular movie. In 73 B.C., Spartacus led a slave revolt against the empire. This uprising was significant because slaves accounted for about one-third of Italy's entire population.
The ex-gladiator fought for over two years and defeated several Roman armies. However, while trying to escape from Italy (at the port city of Brundisium / Brindisi, where the Appian road ended); he unwittingly moved his forces into Apulia / Calabria. This allowed the Romans to pin his forces in between two of their armies. After their defeat, the slaves were deemed no longer deserving of life. In 71 B.C., about 6,000 of them were crucified, starting at Rome, along a 124-mile (200 kilometer) stretch of the Appian.
The Apostle Paul and the road
At the end of his third missionary journey (late spring 58 A.D.), the Apostle Paul is arrested at Jerusalem's temple when Jews, who hate him, start a riot. Armed Roman guards take him to Caesarea where Governor Felix can hear his case. The Governor subsequently puts Paul in prison for more than two years, in the hope a bribe will come to secure his release. In the early autumn of 60 A.D., Paul requests, from the new governor Festus, that as his right as a Roman citizen he wants his case heard by Caesar himself. The request is granted. A Centurion is soon commanded to take him to Rome.
After a shipwreck on the stormy Mediterranean Sea, which Paul survives, he is brought to the western Italian coastal city of Puteoli (125 miles or 201 kilometers from Rome). From the city, he goes to the Appian road to travel the remaining distance to Rome. Zealous Roman Christians hear about Paul's arrival on the mainland and travel a significant distance on the Way to meet him (Acts 28:13 - 15).
The Appii Forum or Market of Appius was a town on the Appian Way about 55 miles from Rome. It was near the sea and a famous resort for sailors, peddlers, merchants and alike. The town of Three Inns (translated 'Three Taverns' in KJV Bible), also near the road, was about ten miles closer to Rome than Appii Forum.