The oldest bridge in the world

Here's your trivia for the day. As far as I'm aware, the world's oldest still-in-use bridge was built in Mycenaean times! Here's a picture from wikimedia:



The bridge lies on a bronze age highway between the cities of Tiryns and Epidauros. The ruins of both cities still exist, by the way, and are well worth a look.

This is a drystone construction with a tiny arch in the middle. The downward pressure of gravity combined with the solid placement of the rocks holds everything in place. Those rocks have sat there for about 3,300 years. Yes, this thing was built in about 1300BC.

When people first walked across this bridge, Minoan civilization was on its last legs. It was the post-palatial period, when Knossos declined and Mycenae rose. Local villagers use it to this day.


16 comments:

Stephanie Thornton said...

This is neat- maybe one of us will win Jeopardy one day!

I wonder if the workers realized their little project would last 3,300 years?

Peter Cooper said...

What blows me away is that if you walked across this bridge in the time of Julius Caesar, it would already have been as old as something built in the 8th century is today.

Ah, they don't build 'em like they used to!

Gary Corby said...

Stephanie, I'm a disaster at all trivia contests. They always ask about movies and sport.

Can you imagine a category for Mycenaean Architecture?

Gary Corby said...

Hey Peter,

Yep, that is sort of amazing. Caesar would have considered this bridge to be ancient history.

Also, it's actually possible that men who fought at Troy crossed this bridge. In fact, it's likely.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm amazed it's stood through so much. There must have been plenty of torrential rainstorms and earth shaking that could have dislodged stones.
Why is it we love to be in ancient places and imagine those who were there before? It always gives me goosebumps.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicole MacDonald said...

So cool!

Gary Corby said...

It is rather cool, isn't it Nicole?

Trish, The whole bridge is rocks piled in a V formation, which is perfect for stability. The incredible thing is, the ground around it mustn't have moved. The most likely way this bridge will fall, if people don't destroy it, is if the surrounding dirt erodes.

Taryn Tyler said...

gorgeous. and amazing that it has lasted so long.

constantinakatsari said...

You are not a disaster with trivia. Quite the contrary! As you say it is astonishing that the bridge survived for so long. On the other hand, most Mycenean constructions did. Their engineers were of the highest calibre.

Gary Corby said...

Amazing indeed Taryn. Anything held together by gravity usuaully lasts a long time.

I should write something about the Lion Gate some time too.

Gary Corby said...

Thanks Constantina!

I've been amazed, when I went around Greece, how little attention the Mycenaean remains get, considering how old they are.

Amalia T. said...

That is definitely impressive. Someday I must get there! It is absolutely amazing to me how much history is underfoot in that part of the world.

Gary Corby said...

Hi Amalia. The annoying thing for me is, I've been to both Tiryns and Epidauros, but I only just discovered this bridge. I must have been within a few hundred meters of it and never knew!

Carol said...

When I was in Greece our guide pointed it out to us in passing while we were on the bus. If I hadn't been sitting on the correct side of the bus I would have missed it completely. I was small but AMAZING.

Gary Corby said...

Hi Carol, welcome to the blog!

I'm going to have to go back that way, if only to walk across that bridge.