The Via Egnatia was one of the major arteries built around the Bosphorus by the Romans as part of a land communication system that ran from Asia Minor towards Europe. Ordered by Gnaeus Egnatius, proconsul of Macedonia from whom it took its name, the road was planned and constructed starting from 146 B.C. and became an important military and administrative instrument: it was actually intended to link the road network that spread throughout the Italian peninsula to the roadways that, starting from the coasts of Albania, crossed the Balkan Peninsula and reached Byzantium (subsequently Constantinople, modern Istanbul).
In the course of time this east-west highway gradually developed and became increasingly complex: warriors, tradesmen, politicians and intellectuals travelled along it. The typical multifunctional value of most major roads includes, in this case, the specific meanings and the essence of a territory in which the cultures constituting the European identity germinated. These nations fought and confronted, and perhaps integrated or at least influenced, each other along the Via Egnatia.
The material heritage that is now disseminated along this ancient road – which has the same amount of junctions as the milestones in the development of our culture – is worthy of enhancement, both to protect it and to help society improve its understanding of History.
It is precisely in this perspective that the Foundation (which constantly aims to establish intercultural dialogue – starting from the recognition of affinities and differences between the nations – using the most effective channel, the intangible strength of culture) has, together with the non-profit organisation Società Geografica Italiana, supported this important publication which witnesses the current state of the ancient Via Egnatia, in order to verify the permanence of the signs of the past and the way they continue to exercise their influence.
Professor Emmanuele F. M. Emanuele
Chairman Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Italia e Mediterraneo