Roman Empire

The Roman Empire continues to make history centuries after its end. Few cultures have left their mark on the current day like Rome. From its humble beginnings that grew out of Ancient Rome, the empire once covered most of Europe, reaching into Africa and Asia. The Roman armies occupied land from the British Isles to Palestine into Turkey and points east. When Rome and its emperors ruled the lands, they brought with them great advances in thought, language, art, and architecture that still make ripples. From its beginnings with Emperor Augustus to its end, Rome changed the world.

Roman Empire Timeline & History

Trajans Market
Trajans Market

The official start of the Roman Empire, known as the Imperium Romanum in Latin, dates to the rule of Augustus. When he took on the role of emperor in 27 BCE, Rome transitioned from a republic into the empire. The first two centuries of the Roman Empire were marked by a period of peace and prosperity, a remarkable time known as the Pax Romana. Julius Caesar, Trajan, Vespasian, and other emperors whose names are still known today guided Roman during this era.

The Roman Empire sphere of influence continued to expand, even as the empire had its problems and peace gave war to war. It continued to grow, stretching from Hadrian’s Wall in England past the Nile River Valley, even as plague, unsettled economies, and strife, settled on the land. When Diocletian took the reigns in 284 CE, he expanded the role of the emperor, taking the title of “dominus,” which means master or lord. The tight grip of emperors continued for another 200 years when the East and the West split. The last emperor to rule over both was Theodosius, who made Christianity the official religion of Rome, quite a change from the early years when the followers faced the lions in the Roman Colosseum. The western part of the empire was done by 476 CE when the Germanic tribe sacked Rome. Augustulus gave up the throne, but the eastern half of the empire continued. It transitioned into the Byzantine Empire. The East fell to the Ottomans in 1453, putting the end to the last vestiges of the Roman Empire. But even after it fell Rome, still continued to influence the world.

Roman Empire Art

Roman Empire Art
Roman Empire Art

With its extended periods of prosperity and peace, Rome had ample opportunities to make art and support the artists behind it. Murals, mosaic floors, statues and even coins reflected Roman creativity and skill, found in the temples, baths, and public meeting places. Even today, Roman Empire art is prized, protected, and proudly displayed in museums around the world, concentrated in Rome, as well as throughout Italy and Vatican City. As you walk along the ruins left throughout the lands once part of the Empire—Nice, France, Aspendos, Turkey, and even Rome itself—you’ll find many examples of art where Romans, both average and noble, once enjoyed it.

Roman Empire Architecture

Roman Empire Architecture
Roman Empire Architecture

Without computers or motorized equipment, the Roman Empire built sophisticated structures, some of which remain standing today. Their designs, which relied heavily on domes and arches, are still seen in courthouses, mansions, and even the U.S. Capitol. The Romans also contributed their engineering muscles to building roads, some of which were used until the advent of the modern highway system. Roman aqueducts also remained even after Rome fell. Their arches carried water from rivers, streams, and other water sources into town. Many historians think that the Roman Empire could not have grown as strong as it did without the strong infrastructure created by Roman engineers and architects.

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