Arkadiko Bridge: The World’s Oldest Bridge

Oct 28, 2021 0 comments

One of the oldest arch bridges still in use is the Arkadiko Bridge or Kazarma Bridge, located near the modern road from Tiryns to Epidauros on the Peloponnese, Greece. It is presumed to have been built during the Greek Bronze Age, or around 1,300 BC, which makes it one of the oldest bridges still in existence and use today.

The arch bridge was built using Cyclopean masonry, with limestone boulders, smaller stones, and little pieces of tile assembled tightly together without mortar. It is 22 meters long, 5.6 meters wide, and 4 meters tall. The bridge leaves a small culvert opening, about one meters wide, at its base. The width of the roadway on the top is about 2.5 meters, allowing a modern car to comfortably pass over, although the approach to the bridge is now covered with vegetation. Due to the bridge’s style and the specific way it was built, archeologists believe it was originally meant for use by horse-drawn chariots.

Arkadiko Bridge

Photo: Davide Mauro/Wikimedia Commons

The Arkadiko Bridge is one of four known Mycenaean corbel arch bridges near Arkadiko, all belonging to the same Bronze Age highway between the two cities, and all of similar design and age. One of them is the Petrogephyri bridge, which crosses the same stream 1 km to the west of the Arkadiko bridge. Otherwise similar in size and appearance, the structure has a larger span and a little higher vault. It, too, is still used as a local track.

A fifth, well-preserved Mycenaean bridge is located in the wider region at Lykotroupi in northern Argolis, where it was part of another Mycenaean main road. Its measurements are close to the Arkadiko Bridge: 5.20 meters wide at the bottom, 2.40 meters at the top and with a corbelled arch span of a little more than a meter. The road still features curbs for guiding fast-moving chariots.

Arkadiko Bridge

Photo: Silyba/Wikimedia Commons

Arkadiko Bridge

Photo: Kritheus/Wikimedia Commons


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