I am writing a paper about land transport using oxen carts and wagons in central Italy during the High Empire (late 1st century BC to early 3rd century AD), including some computing simulations of where these could move or not depending on their load. I am particularly interested on the cart known as plaustrum, which seems to be the typical rural cart used to transport agricultural produce and goods, but I am open to suggestions of other types of carts. For running these simulations, I would need to know the estimated weight of the cart, which I am having difficulty finding.

I have checked several books/papers on the topic (Raepsaet, 2002; Raepsaet 2016; van Tilburg, 2012, amongst others), but I can't find this piece of information anywhere. However, it seems they found a possible (preserved) example in a rural villa in Boscoreale (Italy), but I can't get the book (De Caro, 1994) anywhere to check if there is a detailed description that would include this information...

Any help/idea would be most welcomed!

  • 1
    You might want to narrow things down a little. "Roman times" covered at least a thousand years and spanned a large part of Europe. I suspect that the dimensions and weights of wagons varied across the empire, and by the tools and materials available.
    – Steve Bird
    Jun 24, 2022 at 17:46
  • Thanks for your comment. I am modelling movement in central Italy during the High Empire (late 1st century BC to early 3rd century AD). There is indeed a wide variety of carts, but not that many for heavy loads in non-military contexts, and amongst them, it seems the plaustrum is the most common choice.
    – mclands
    Jun 24, 2022 at 17:56
  • 1
    You should include that information in the question (as comments can be lost) to avoid getting answers that are outside of your period of interest.
    – Steve Bird
    Jun 24, 2022 at 18:01
  • 2
    I did a quick search, and it seems that just the name for a kind of 1-axle wheeled cart. Image searches show examples from 1-person wheelbarrow-like things to larger ones pulled by 2 oxen with a load and rider in the back. I could have some of this wrong, but it looks like there was no one size, any more than there's one size of "car".
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 24, 2022 at 18:06
  • 1
    To be clear, you are looking for information concerning the actual mass of the cart itself, not the loads being carried? There are Roman publications concerning weight limits to avoid damaging roads(Theodosius), and 'standard' freight fees per wagon loads(Diocletian), but this type of information is concerned with the total weight, or the load itself, not the carts or wagons themselves...you might compare the Plaustrum and the red river cart
    – justCal
    Jun 26, 2022 at 14:53


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.