Tag Archives: Via Egnatia

Did Paul Visit Albania?

On his Third Missionary Journey Paul wrote the following to the Church in Rome.

Rom. 15:18–19 “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.”

AlbaniaMapPart of the heartland of Illyricum included modern day Albania.  When would Paul have visited Illyricum—such a visit is not mentioned in Acts?  Possibly on his Second and/or Third Missionary Journeys.  How would he have gotten there?  It seems logical to assume that he would have traveled  on the via Egnatia—as he did on his Second Journey from Philippi to Amphipolis, to Appolonia, to Thessalonica, etc.  And from Thessalonica he could have continued on the same road west to Illyricum.

In May of 2015 my wife and I had the privilege of joining a group led by Dr. Mark Wilson that traced the route and stopping points along the via Egnatia—the Roman road that led from Dyrrhachium and Appolonia on the shore of the Adriatic Sea to Byzantium.  The construction of the via Egnatia began in the second century B.C. and it eventually reached a length of 696 miles.

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View of the remains of Ad Quintum (“At Five [miles]”)—a place where riders would change their horses (mutatio). The row of arches in the center of the image are evidently remnants of a monumental water fountain (nymphaeum) that was built into the hill. On the left, with some protective covering, is the area where there was a Roman Bath.

A Roman bath at Ad Quintum, a change–over station (mutatio) on the via Egnatia, is very well–preserved. It was discovered after a landslide in 1968. It was listed in the Bordeaux Itinerary of A.D. 333.   Although “change-over stations” (mutatio—where horses were changed by official couriers) are well­–known from literary sources, but only few have been identified archaeologically.  Ad Quintum is located a few miles west of the modern Elbasan (ancient Scampis) in Albania.

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View of the remains of the interior of the Roman Bath at Ad Quintum (“At Five [miles]”)—a place where riders would change their horses (mutatio). Note the frescos on the wall, the steps, and the terra cotta brick work of the arches above the doors.

The current ancient constructions at Ad Quintum are thought to date to the 2nd–4th centuries A.D. (Note from Dr. Mark Wilson).  To view additional images of the remains at Ad Quintum Click Here.

EgnatiaAramcoThe above map of the via Egnatia is from a wonderful article in AramcoWorld.

To view a Roman Bridge on the via Egnatia Click Here.

 

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Via Egnatia (Peqin, Albania)

Paul probably traveled on this road on both his second and third missionary journeys, as he traveled between Philippi and Thessalonica.  The current issue of Aramco World has a wonderful article on this road—describing it from west to east.  It includes some pictures, a video and a helpful map.

The Via Egnatia is the name of a Roman Road that connected ports on the Adriatic Sea with Byzantium.  From west to east, a traveler from Rome (Italy – not on map) would head southeast overland to Brundisium (a port on the east coast of Italy).

ViaEgnatia01From there they would sail east, across the Adriatic Sea, landing at either Apollonia or Dyrrhachium (both on map).  They would head east, overland, on the “Via Egnatia” toward Byzantium — via ThessalonicaAmphipolisPhilippi, and Kypsela.

Although completed in stages, it was begun in the second century B.C. and it was expanded and repaired by the Romans in subsequent centuries.  It is named after the second century B.C. Roman proconsul of Macedonia, “Gnaios Egnatios.”  Its length varied according to the period, but Roman milestones suggest it was 535 Roman miles long (= 493 English miles [790 km.]).

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View looking east at a portion of the Via Egnatia near the Albanian village of Peqin. Here the roadbed is being used for local rural traffic!

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Carl and Mary Rasmussen on a Roman Bridge that supported the Via Egnatia near Peqin (Albania)

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View looking northeast at a bridge of the Via Egnatia near the Albanian village of Peqin. Here local traffic is diverted to the right of the bridge.

HT:  Drs. William Burlingame and Mark Wilson.