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Living Like Romans – Practical Things The Roman Empire Gave Us 2000 Years Ago
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Living Like Romans – Practical Things the Roman Empire Gave Us 2000 Years Ago

It was not until the Romans conquered large areas of Europe 2000 years ago including Britain that many nations as we know them today started to live in a more orderly and practical way. Before the Roman Empire, people lived mainly in the countryside surviving by hunting and living off the land as best they could.

Living like Romans

During the 400-year reign, the Romans coerced people into larger settlements where they could control them easily and get them to work more productively. Clearly, those under Roman control must have resented it, but the outcome was an organised way of life, and improved lifestyle for some.

The model for Roman settlements replicated exactly how the Romans themselves lived at home in hierarchal societies favouring the wealthy and the powerful. These early settlements and communities still form the basis of our towns and cities today. The only thing missing is the surrounding walls, watchtowers and gateways, which at the time provided protection from attack by tribes or wild animals.

Streets were generally constructed around open spaces known as the forum, which could be used as a market place. Important buildings such as the church, town hall and law courts would hold prime positions on the forum, while shops, workshops and offices were mainly behind the most important buildings.

The Romans also divided their empire up into areas known as regions allowing local leaders to retain power in return for their allegiance to Rome. The Romans were very clever at using both the carrot and the stick to get what they wanted. This strategy also did away with the need for large armies to defend their empire.

Powerful Romans and the tribal chiefs who supported them were rewarded with Roman villas in the countryside. Poorer people would then work for them and be housed on their estates where they would work the land or in workshops. Roman villas and settlements were so well built that many fine examples still exist in Britain and across Europe today.

Drainage and sanitation

Roman towns were kept as clean and as healthy as possible. Most towns of any size had at least one public bath and public toilets, and drains and sewers were built to take away waste. Pipes and aqueducts were also built to bring in clean water from rivers, often across difficult terrain, which must have been quite amazing to the largely illiterate population of the time. How would society manage today without these early innovations?

A fine example of a Roman baths (see above photo) can be seen in the UK at the City of Bath in England where hot water from a natural occurring spring is piped into what was once a communal pool used for bathing in Roman Times. These Roman baths are 2000 years old and were rediscovered in the late 19th century. Much of the original plumbing and pipework is still in place and operational today.

Roman Roads

Probably what the Romans are most remembered for is transforming road building across Europe. The Romans constructed thousands of miles of highway to convey their armies, messengers and goods and control their empire, but do you know why their roads were built in straight lines?

Apart from it being the most direct route, at the time they had not learnt how to pivot an axle, so had to take four-wheel vehicles in a relatively straight line. There was also less chance of being attacked on a straight road, where aggressors could be spotted a lot easier. Drainage ditches built alongside roads had a dual purpose as they made it difficult for attackers to cross.

Although road building has now improved greatly because of new materials and better paving techniques, the basic road structure is the same as it was then. A road is still built up in layers and a drainage system provided at the side of the road.

Change can be for the better

So there you have it: three practical things in society today from 2000 years ago that have stood the test of time. Of course, the Romans did not actually invent all these things themselves, but they were proficient at taking ideas from other cultures such as the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, Persians and others and developing them so they were even better.

Who knows how long it would have been before we would have started living in communities and acquired the practical knowledge and skills to build towns, dwellings and roads, without the spread of the Roman Empire. Will we still be living like Romans in another 2000 years from now?


Street Talk

Nice! Reminds me of my February 1988 walk amidst the ruins in Rome... now roped off;) Here's a fact I remember from back then... The width of our cars even today is determined by the Roman Empire.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Hi Cynthia, I know the Romans introduced many other things to rest of the world, apart from the things I highlighted. However, I didn't know about the width of our cars, which I suppose ties in with the width of a cart in those days and our roads today.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Post your articles at ArticlesUpload COM

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Well researched article. According to Edward Rutherfurd's "London" a huge book that I'm re-reading right now, the Romans had underfloor heating. Fascinating.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

It is amazing how much still exists of what came out of both Rome and Greece.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Good food for thought, where would we have been, probably still similar to what we are now just less organised. I think if one researches, a lot of the ancient legal systems are the basis of the present ones in a lot of countries. Interesting enjoyed the article.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Yes they are and many other things as well such as language, coinage, education etc. I wander if the internet will be around in 2000 years from now and if so, how it will work?

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Damn I don't even want to think about that. the progress I've seen in my time frightens me when I think of the possibilities of the future.

  
  about 1 decade ago
Barbara9  

very nice article

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Very interesting Golfspice...great article

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Very nice article. I really like that way it flowed.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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