My good friend Jeff Mann, the true Yard Ramp Guy, has asked me to revisit some of my original contributions. And so: my From the Archives series. This week: ancient Greeks multitasked in a most remarkable way.
Most of the historical ramps I research are generally of a pretty temporary nature: pyramid construction ramps, siege ramps, etc. They're built for a single purpose and then abandoned or destroyed. They're machines, and they don't have a long-term purpose.
I have found a few ramps that are different, though, and one of my favorites is the Diolkos.
The Diolkos, built by the ancient Greeks, was half ramp, half causeway. It was used to transport ships across the Ithmus of Corinth, saving them a dangerous sea voyage. The ancient Greeks actually dragged the ships overland on it. (You'd think a canal would be easier to use, but canals are a lot harder to build and maintain.) Huge teams of men and oxen would have pulled the boats and cargo across it in about three hours per trip.
No one is quite sure when the thing was built, but at best estimate it was in use from 600 BC to 100 AD, which is a pretty good lifespan for a project like that. It was mostly used for shipping but also served a pretty vital role for navies during war.
There isn't nearly as much information on the Diolkos as I would like out there. The ancient Greeks mostly wrote about their gods and heroes and wars and such, which is disappointing but not unexpected. Most people want entertainment; they're not looking to find out how the world works.
Today the site has been destroyed in parts by the Corinth Canal, and much of the excavated portions are falling apart due to lack of maintenance and boat traffic on the Canal. It's not exactly the Parthenon, but it represents a vital look at how the day-to-day functioning of an ancient society actually worked.
Maybe I can convince Maggie that we should go to Greece next vacation.
The Yard Ramp Guy: Ramps Rusting Gracefully
This week, my friend The Yard Ramp Guy pivots from writing about steel as the literal foundation of his business to take on the benefits and drawbacks of new technology. Of course, I always appreciate a cautionary tale.
Click HERE to explore how he goes from ramps to rusty sidewalks.