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Subsystem of ICES. Sammet 1969, p.616.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the common name for all varieties of land transport routes, designed to carry people, vehicular traffic, and freight.

A road network for regular traffic began to develop in Eurasia during the fifth millennium B.C. Ordinarily these ancient roads, as well as a majority of roads of the second and first millennia B.C., were not surfaced. The basic road network in Eurasia stabilized during the first millennium B.C. It served as the basis for such transcontinental routes of exchange and commerce as the Great Silk Route and the roads of the Arab Caliphate; these routes reached as far as Scandinavia. On the American continent road construction flourished in the first half of the first millennium B.C., when cobbled roads and roads hewn out of rocks were built in the Incan empire. The formation of the road network also influenced the planning of settlements. From the irregular development typical for the ancient agricultural settlements, one can note a transition in the second millennium B.C. in southern Eurasia to constant principles for laying out the settlements and towns that took into account the possibilities of moving traffic through the streets. Large settlements arose at the points where major roads intersected as well as along them.

Ancient transport routes were characteristically a combination of river and sea transport with overland transport. This was the case with the major trade routes that were built at the end of the third millennium B.C., including the “amber route,” which crossed all of Central Europe, and the “lead route” from the Cornwall Peninsula in England to the Mediterranean countries. The role of overland traffic increased as exchange and regular cultural contacts grew stronger. Traces of the so-called lazurite route, over which the lapis lazuli of the Badakhshan deposits were spread to a considerable portion of Southwest Asia beginning in the fourth millennium B.C., have been found in the Middle East and Middle Asia. Roads of considerable length, often with stone paving, were built by the Hittites and Assyrians during periods when their states flourished and made major military conquests. Arising on the site of ancient caravan routes, these roads in turn became part of the road network of the Achaemenid state from the sixth century through the fourth century B.C. The Imperial Road is among the most well known of the Achaemenid roads; it extended from Ephesus to Susa and Sardes. The road had a stone surface, road markers indicating distances, stations with hotels, and so forth. On the model of this road, the Appian Way was built at the end of the fourth century B.C. from Rome to Capua and Brundisium; this marked the beginning of the active construction of Roman trade and military roads. The Romans created a network of roads across Western Europe consisting of 372 major roads, 29 of which ended in Rome. The Roman roads were built from gravel, cobblestone, and cut stone laid in lime mortar. In swampy regions, the Romans paved their roads with wood, making use of the experience of the native populations. The Roman roads had markers for distance and intersections. The surfacing, which was made up of several layers, was as much as a meter in depth. The paved portion of a Roman road was not wide. The Appian Way, which was up to 4.3 m wide, was an exception; more often the roads were designed for a single carriage. There were dirt tracks on both sides of the paved roadway for the traffic of unshod pack and saddle animals. The Roman roads that crossed the Alps were between 1.5 and 3.5 m wide and very steep. Road construction in Europe halted with the fall of the Roman Empire. Only in the 13th century did the building of roads resume, and roads were built in Sweden, Germany, England, Spain, and the Netherlands. In England a maximum shipping weight was established for the first time, and a rule was introduced that all carriages would keep to one side. In the 15th and 16th centuries in Italy a road network was built that was designed for the passage of two carriages. The organization of regular mail and passenger services in the 17th century led to a significant rise in road construction in Europe. The invention of a surface of a solid layer of packed gravel at the beginning of the 19th century caused the rapid growth of road construction and began to be widely used in building highways in the 1820’s.

On the territory of ancient Russia in the eighth to the tenth centuries A.D., the Kievan state had several trade routes (chiefly water) linking Kiev with the Crimea and the mouth of the Don. With the growth of the Russian state, a road network was formed from Moscow to the borderlands. The year 1722 can be considered the beginning of systematic road building in Russia, when Peter I ordered the construction of a road between St. Petersburg and Moscow. (Called the “avenue road,” it was made of dirt reinforced in a number of areas with logs.) In 1817 work was started on the paving of this road with crushed rock, and by 1834 the St. Petersburg-Moscow road, over 700 km long, began to be called the Moscow Highway.

The turn of the 19th century was characterized in all countries by intensive highway construction (that is, roads with a hard, chiefly crushed rock, surface). The thickness of the surfacing was reduced from 1 m to 0.24-0.27 m. The creation of the automobile made new demands upon roads. Road surfaces of crushed rock could not withstand the intensive auto-mobile traffic, and with the 1920’s extensive construction was started of motor roads and motor highways with an asphalted surface.

The growth of the road network necessitated the development of reading machinery and the production of new road-building materials. Modern urban, intercity, and interstate roads are complexes of engineering structures that provide for high traffic speed, tolerate heavy loads, and, as a rule, do not have intersections on the same level.

The first public railroad was built in Great Britain in the 1820’s. In Russia the construction of the first such railroad (between St. Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo) was completed in 1837.

The development of large cities with the enormous expansion of transport arteries and the difficulty of surface auto-mobile traffic have led to the development of underground railroads, subways, and above-ground monorails.


Kudriavtsev, A. S. Ocherki istorii dorozhnogo stroitel’stva v SSSR, part 1: “Dooktiabr’skii period.” Moscow, 1951.
Artsikhovskii, A. V. “Sredstvaperedvizheniia.” In Ocherki russkoi kul’tury 13-15 vv., part 1. Moscow, 1969.
Clark, G. Doistoricheskaia Evropa. Moscow, 1953. (Translated from English.)
Stamp, D., and S. Beaver. Britanskie ostrova. Moscow, 1948. (Translated from English.)
Metz, A. Musul’manskii Renessans. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from German.)
Amerikanskaia geografiia. Moscow, 1957. Pages 301-21. (Translated from English.)
Forbes, R. J. Studies in Ancient Technology, vol. 2. Leiden, 1955.




(also roadstead), an anchorage near shore or in a port. Inner roads are part of the enclosed water area of ports, and outer roads are the water areas at the approaches to ports.

Closed roads are protected from wind and waves by natural shelters, such as capes, spits, and islands, or by artificial barriers, such as moles and breakwaters. Ships usually lie in roads while awaiting moorage. Ships are also loaded and unloaded and sometimes repaired while lying in roads; fuel and water are also taken aboard. Towing and rafting operations are organized in roads.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
She looked anxiously up and down the road; shifted her bag again from one hand to the other; repeated the words, "Will you promise?" and looked hard in my face, with a pleading fear and confusion that it troubled me to see.
Was this the well-known, uneventful road, where holiday people strolled on Sundays?
"Each of these roads must lead somewhere, or it wouldn't be here.
Toto looked around a minute and dashed up one of the roads.
"I saw him then, messieurs," began the mender of roads, "a year ago this running summer, underneath the carriage of the Marquis, hanging by the chain.
South of Gold Beach, climbing a narrow road through the virgin forest, they heard from far above the jingle of bells.
As the child complained of hunger and thirst, she climbed over the fence with him; and, sitting down behind a large rock which concealed them from the road, she gave him a breakfast out of her little package.
'But by the straight road, when once we get through the hollow by the forest, it's good going--sheltered,' said Vasili Andreevich, who wished to go the nearest way.
They glided off along that winding stretch of road. To its very edge, on either side of them, so close that they could almost touch it, came the water, water which stretched as far as they could see, swaying, waveless, sinister-looking.
As soon as I was mounted, holding on to Dogger's belt, the supervisor gave the word, and the party struck out at a bouncing trot on the road to Dr.
For, absurd as it may sound, with that look into those Arabian Nights' eyes, had come somewhere out of space an overwhelming intuition, nay, an unshakable conviction, that the woman who was already being rolled away from me down the road in that Dis's car of a farmer's gig, was now and for ever and before all worlds the woman God had created for me, and that, unless I could be hers and she mine, there would be no home, no peace for either of us so long as we lived.
Another fellow now came up, and asked which way the gentlemen were going; of which being informed by Jones, he first scratched his head, and then leaning upon a pole he had in his hand, began to tell him, "That he must keep the right-hand road for about a mile, or a mile and a half, or such a matter, and then he must turn short to the left, which would bring him round by Measter Jin Bearnes's."--"But which is Mr John Bearnes's?" says Jones.