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  • Roman communications

    Even when the Imperial courier service was at its best using a form of pony express it took about a week to get a message from the outermost reaches of he Empire to Rome and another week to get a reply back. A semaphore telegram system was within the bounds of Roman technology but was never developed. Had it been done so many parts of the empire would have been no more than a day away in terms of signalling. Would this have made a significant difference to the long term development of the empire - would I be posting in Latin?
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

  • #2
    Originally posted by MarkV View Post
    Even when the Imperial courier service was at its best using a form of pony express it took about a week to get a message from the outermost reaches of he Empire to Rome and another week to get a reply back. A semaphore telegram system was within the bounds of Roman technology but was never developed. Had it been done so many parts of the empire would have been no more than a day away in terms of signalling. Would this have made a significant difference to the long term development of the empire - would I be posting in Latin?
    You are posting with Latin alphabets.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by MarkV View Post
      Even when the Imperial courier service was at its best using a form of pony express it took about a week to get a message from the outermost reaches of he Empire to Rome and another week to get a reply back. A semaphore telegram system was within the bounds of Roman technology but was never developed. Had it been done so many parts of the empire would have been no more than a day away in terms of signalling. Would this have made a significant difference to the long term development of the empire - would I be posting in Latin?
      It unquestionably would have sped up communications, especially with commanders in the field a long ways from from the Emperor.

      Why they didn't think of it really is a kid of mystery. They were very good at solving other problems of much greater complexity. And they had a navy, which meant they already knew the value of communicating with vessels out of voice range but within visual range.

      What is your theory?
      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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      • #4
        Could be they didn't see a need that justified the investment, resources and time spent building them.

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        • #5
          The Greeks had a signal system apparently, there are numerous references around to Polybius describing it, shouldn't be too hard to find.

          Edit, from Polybius :

          The most recent method, devised by Cleoxenus and Democleitus and perfected by myself, is quite definite and capable of dispatching with accuracy every kind of urgent message, but in practice it requires care and exact attention.
          Upon their separating after coming to this understanding each of them must first have on the spot a ``viewing tube'' with two cylinders, so that with the one he can observe the space on the right of the man who is going to signal back and with the other that on the left. The tablets must be set straight up in order next the tubes, and there must be a screen before both spaces, as well the right as the left, ten feet in length and of the height of a man so that by this means the torches may be seen distinctly when raised and disappear when lowered.
          When all has been thus got ready on both sides, if the signaler wants to convey, for instance, that a hundred of the soldiers have deserted to the enemy, he must first of all choose words which will convey what he means in the smallest number of letters, e.g., instead of the above ``Cretans a hundred deserted us"
          Those engaged in the work must have had proper practice, so that when it comes to putting it in action they may communicate with each other without the possibility of a mistake ..



          https://humanitiesancientgreecesteph...--writing.html

          The historian Polybius (203-120 BCE) described the system in which two parties had tablets arranged in the same order and would know which letters to use to decode messages based on the use of a signalman's torch.
          And of course, as anyone who's ever participated in forum games here on the ACG knows…..

          Special trained pigeons would take the messages to the other party.
          It may well be that even though the system was known, it was simply not considered the most reliable or practical method to deliver a message.

          Even in the 18th-19th century, even though the semaphore was known, the courier was the most used method….
          Last edited by Snowygerry; 03 Sep 19, 06:42.
          High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.

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          • #6
            Apparently fire signals from hilltop to hilltop are mentioned in Greek Mythology even, although that may be an anachronism :

            Aeschylus writes in Agamemnon that fire signals were used to send the message from Troy to the city Argos of the victory by the Greeks (1184 BC ?). Only after a few hours the message reached the c. 600 km distant city of Argos:
            LEADER Say then, how long ago the city (Troy) fell?
            CLYTEMNESTRA Even in this night that now brings forth the dawn.
            LEADER Yet who so swift could speed the message here?
            CLYTEMNESTRA From Ida's top Hephaestus, lord of fire, sent forth his sign; and on, and ever on, beacon to beacon sped the courier-flame. From Ida to the crag, that Hermes loves, of Lemnos; thence unto the steep sublime of Athos, throne of Zeus, the broad blaze flared.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histor...ecommunication

            And pre-Roman history :

            Herodotus 7.183:

            When the Greeks stationed at Artemisium learnt what had happened by fire-signals from Sciathus, so terrified were they, that, quitting their anchorage-ground at Artemisium, and leaving scouts to watch the foe on the highlands of Euboea, they removed to Chalcis, intending to guard the Euripus.
            Last edited by Snowygerry; 03 Sep 19, 07:25.
            High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.

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            • #7
              There are also quite a number of references to a signalling system being in place along Hadrians Wall but based on what evidence is not immediately clear…..

              Like here, even with a picture included

              The Romans had clever signalling systems. On Hadrian's Wall an alphabetic system was used based on two groups of five flags, which allowed them to send messages letter by letter, and was similar to the system developed in England at the end of the eighteenth century.
              http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient.../tech_01.shtml

              16efd1078dc8ff28761e54b452a91fc4a00af770.jpg
              Last edited by Snowygerry; 03 Sep 19, 09:56.
              High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.

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              • #8
                Wonder what message the Romans were trying to communicate when, in the aftermath of the Servile War, they lined the Appian Way with crosses . . . .
                I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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