Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/63

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There the double row of pontoons built by Xerxes's engineers in 480 B.C. could be moored with less danger of their drifting with the southerly flowing waters. It is not improbable that the bridge thrown across the Hellespont on this occasion was started near the conveniently situated mouth of the Rhodius River and extended to a point about two and a half miles south of Madytus.

Half a century later the Hellespont was crossed by a counter human current which was destined to flow to the shores of the Indian Ocean. Macedonian supremacy over Greek states at that time depended largely on the conquest of Asia where ready help against the kingdom bequeathed by Philip to Alexander was always to be found by the states of Thessaly and the Peloponnesus. The bulk of the Macedonian phalanxes were transported from Europe to Asia between Sestus and Abydos in 334 B.C. It is likely that minor contingents crossed between Elacontus and the Achean's cove with Alexander who was proceeding to Ilium.

The main fording points selected on this occasion lie north of the previous passage. The distance between Sestus and Abydos is also approximately one mile. The advantage of the site, however, is due to the moderation of the current which flows between these points with about half the swiftness characterizing its onward rush through the contracted outlet on the south.

When the convergence of all roads to Rome had become well established in the first century after Christ, the Bosporus was the shortest watery section of a long highway which began at the Appian way and extending through Ancyra, Tarsus and Antioch, attained Egypt and Mesopotamia by way of branches diverging at the last-named city.

The easterly spread of the Roman Empire, however, caused the Bosporus to replace the Roman Tiber as the hub of spoke-like roads leading to the remotest confines of the Cæsars' vast administrative domain. The evidence afforded by the Peutinger Table and the Antonine Itinerary on this translation of center is conclusive. In the words of Ramsay[1] the map

was made in the Byzantine period, by a person who was accustomed to the Byzantine system of roads radiating from Constantinople across Asia Minor, and who tried to represent the roads on this idea. . . . But no road which leads across country from the Ægean coast is represented with any approach to completeness: the roads in this direction are given in fragments with frequent gaps.

The same remark applies to the Antonine Itinerary: the compiler is interested chiefly in the roads to Constantinople. . . .'

In the early centuries of the Christian era the advantageous location of the waterways favored the development of trade intercourse between Europe and Asia. From the European coast roads led to the great

  1. "The Historical Geography of Asia Minor," p. 48.