Earthworks

Published on 7 February 2008

Earthworks opened up lines of communication.

Congo-Ocean Railway

3/Earthworks opened up lines of communication.
- In 2700 BC the oldest road in the world, at 3 km long, was built near Salisbury in Wessex, England.
- In the 15th century BC, the Peruvian Incas built the Road of the Kings, which was 5,200 km long, across the Andes; it’s sole purpose was to carry the emperor’s mail.
- In 1200 BC in Egypt, under Rameses II, the canal linking the Nile to the Red Sea was excavated to aid boat navigation.
- In 600 BC in China, a 1,600 km canal linking Peking to Hangzhou, measuring 30 m in width at its narrowest point, was at the time, the longest waterway.- Under the Roman Empire, legionaries built the first road network, where, if the roads were end to end, they would have twice circumnavigated the globe.
- In the middle ages, soldiers, pilgrims and beggars crossed the country on routes that were no more than rough graded paths. In the 15th century, the setting up of post houses brought the development of rough-graded metalled roads, but which were still badly maintained.

4/ Earthworks used for military purposes.
- In 200 BC, the Great Wall of China made up of 57 million m3 of earth and masonry was built to stop invaders.
- In 200 BC, Scipio laid siege to Carthage digging a ditch 4.5 km in length completely cutting off the peninsula. He also erected embankments. Thousands of legionaries worked on them for months on end.

5/ From the 17th century onwards.
For a short time, the state of France took an interest in public works, appointing Sully Grand Voyer de France (in charge of communications) in 1599. But it was under Colbert (1619-1683) that a policy of developing highway infrastructure set in.
The birth of modern roads came in the 18th century with the creation in 1716 of the Administration des Ponts et Chaussées.

Some earthworks

- The fortifications of Vauban (1633-1707) under Louis XIV.
- The Suez Canal (1859-1869): 161 km
- The Panama Canal (1844 and 1904-1914): 79 km
- The Corinth Canal: 63 km
- The Trans Siberian Railway (1899-1916): 9,297 km
- The Congo Ocean Railway (1920)
- The Trans-Gabonese Railway (1973-1988): 750 km
- Earthwork dams in France, USA, China etc.
- The French motorway network
- The French LGV network