Two thousand years ago, on respectable 19, 14 AD, Caesar Augustus died. He to be Rome’s first emperor, having won a polite war much more than 40 years previously that reinvented the dysfunctional roman Republic right into an empire. Under Augustus and his successors, the empire experienced 200 years of family member peace and also prosperity. Below are 40 maps that define the Roman empire — that rise and also fall, its culture and economy, and also how it laid the structures of the contemporary world.

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1) The rise and fall of Rome


In 500 BC, Rome was a young city-state on the Italian peninsula. Through 200 BC, the roman inn Republic had overcame Italy, and also over the adhering to two century it dominated Greece and Spain, the phibìc African coast, much of the center East, modern France, and also even the remote island that Britain. In 27 BC, the republic became an empire, which withstood for one more 400 years. Finally, the expenses of holding together a substantial area together end up being too great. Rome gradually break-up into Eastern and also Western halves, and by 476 ad the Western half of the empire had been destroyed by intrusions from german tribes. The Eastern half of the empire, based in Constantinople, ongoing for countless centuries after that.

2) The Roman empire was vast

At its height roughly 100 AD, the Roman empire stretched native Britain in the Northwest come Egypt in the Southeast. To gain a sense for how large that is, it’s helpful to compare it to the contemporary United States. The Roman districts of Britain and Egypt were about as much apart as the American says of Florida and also Washington. One obvious difference is that the Roman realm had the Mediterranean in the center of it, which assisted move people and supplies over large distances. Still, it’s remarkable that queens operating many centuries prior to the railroad and the telegraph — come say naught of airplanes and also the net — were able to organize together such a huge domain because that so long.

3) Traveling about the empire was excruciatingly slow

This map offers some perspective on just how big Roman region was family member to the transportation technologies of the day. Produced by researchers at Stanford, it approximates how long it took because that someone leave Rome come reach assorted locations approximately the empire. The Mediterranean was a huge help in getting around — most seaside locations in the west Mediterranean might be reached in under a week, and also even far-flung coastal cities favor Alexandria and also Jerusalem could be got to in two weeks. Yet traveling come the interior was an ext difficult. Reaching the most far-off points in the empire, such together Britain, could take close come a month. And of course, going indigenous one end of the empire to the other could take even longer. The researchers calculation that that took seven weeks to travel from Constantinople (at the eastern end of the empire) to London (in the much west).

4) The districts of Rome in 117

Andrei Nacu
The Roman realm reached its best size under the power of Trajan in 117 AD. To aid in administration, it was divided into provinces. The variety of provinces adjusted over time as regions were acquired or lost, and as bigger provinces were separated into smaller sized ones. There were 46 districts under Trajan, a figure that would thrive to 96 by the power of Diocletian (285–305). In Trajan’s time, districts in the internal of the nation were run by governors preferred by the Senate, a legislative body run by leading aristocrats. In contrast, border provinces were operation by governors named straight by the emperor. This to be a defense measure. Border districts needed militaries to defend against invasion, and also emperors worried the if these troops were placed under the regulate of someone no personally faithful to the emperor, that human could shot to seize power and also proclaim himself emperor. This wasn’t an idle issue — coups and also civil battles were a recurrent problem for the empire.

The climb of Rome

5) Italy prior to Roman conquest

In its early years, the Romans shared Italy through several other peoples. The leading power in the neighborhood of Rome was the Etruscans. We don’t know an extremely much about these people, in component because we haven’t established how to read their distinctive language. Yet the evidence says that Rome was ruled by Etruscan majesties until the Romans revolted and established a republic — an occasion that is traditionally dated to 509 BC. East of Rome were other tribes speak languages concerned the Romans’ native Latin. And also by 400 BC, the prosperous and also technologically advanced Greeks had established swarms at Italy’s southerly tip.

6) Rome conquers Italy

Rome go from being one of numerous city-states in 340 BC come being master of the whole peninsula through 264. The conquest arisen in three phases. In 340, Rome come into problem with its previous allies, the neighboring Latins, and also subdued lock by 338. Beginning in 326, Rome fought the Samnites to the East, a conflict that would continue sporadically until Roman victory in 282. Rome likewise fought sparse battles v Etruscans and Gauls come its North during this period. Rome climate turned its fist to the Greeks in the southern of Italy, fighting a war v the Greek king Pyrrhus. Pyrrhus winner two major battles versus the Romans in 280 and also 279, respectively. But he take it such hefty casualties in those battles that he would ultimately lose the battle — giving rise come the hatchet “Pyrrhic victory.”

7) The very first war with Carthage

Megistias Firm control over Italy made Rome one of the Mediterranean’s significant powers. The Romans started to come into problem with one more rising power located just throughout the water: Carthage. Situated in phibìc Africa near modern Tunis, Carthage was the resources of a seafaring empire, presented here in red, the dominated commerce in the western Mediterranean. Rome fought three problems with Carthage, well-known as the Punic Wars, in between 264 and 146 BC. The first conflict arisen after Carthage intervened in a problem on the island of Sicily, just off the southern guideline of Italy. While Sicily wasn’t Roman are at the time, the Romans feeling this to be a tiny too close come home. They sent an military to expel the Carthaginian troops. The result was the an initial Punic War, i m sorry lasted for much more than 20 years. This map mirrors the situation after the war: Rome gained regulate of the archipelago of Sicily, Corsica, and also Sardinia, making it a significant naval strength for the first time. (Click the photo to see the full map.)

8) Hannibal attacks Rome through elephants

Pinpin and also Abalg one of the greatest military mental of the old world was Hannibal. A Carthaginian born during the first Punic War, he boring a lifelong grudge versus Rome. In 218 BC, that led an army — including, famously, a couple of dozen elephants — from Carthaginian-controlled Spain throughout the Alps to north Italy, beginning the 2nd war between Rome and also Carthage. Hannibal thought Italians to be chafing under the roman inn yoke; he hoped his come would trigger a large rebellion that would break Rome’s manage of Italy. Hannibal delighted in an unbroken string of to win on the battlefield, including the full destruction that a Roman military at Cannae in 216. And after Cannae, a couple of Italian cities did revolt. Yet Hannibal no attract sufficient Italian allies to bring around Rome’s defeat. The Romans to be able to raise a brand-new army to change the one Hannibal had destroyed, and also Hannibal’s military wasn’t an effective enough to catch Rome. So Hannibal spent 15 years skirmishing inconclusively v the Romans. Finally, Hannibal was called home to deal with a roman inn counterattack ~ above Carthage. He lost at the battle of Zama in 202. Rome applied harsh terms, seizing Carthage’s overseas possessions and also dismantling Carthage’s navy. Then in 149 the paranoid Romans furious a 3rd Punic War versus the helpless Carthaginians that brought about the full destruction of your civilization.

Rome’s military

9) Rome’s powerful maniple formation

Mike Anderson
In the early on years the the republic, the roman inn infantry used a variation of the Greek phalanx. In this formation, soldiers was standing shoulder come shoulder in a strict packed formation that deserve to be an ext than a dozen soldiers deep. Soldiers in the former were defended by a wall surface of huge shields, and they tried come reach about their shields with lengthy spears come stab the enemy. While this development worked fine on level ground, the Romans discovered it was as well brittle for the hilly terrain whereby they did lot of their fighting. It came to be extremely delicate if a space opened increase in the ranks. To address this weakness, the Romans developed the maniple formation shown here, sometimes described as a “phalanx through joints.” rather of a solitary line that men, the Romans split their infantry into groups of around 120 men, each of which might maneuver independently, and also arranged them in a checkerboard pattern. Maniples behind the prior line have the right to step into any kind of gaps that open up up in the front line. The Romans put their least experienced soldiers in the front heat (the bottom in this picture), in wishes that the opponent would waste power fighting them, making castle too exhausted to put up a fight when they reached more experienced (and better-armed) soldiers additional back.

10) The changing culture of the roman inn army

The road Chimp in between 200 BC and 14 AD, Rome dominated most of western Europe, Greece and the Balkans, the middle East, and North Africa. One an outcome was profound alters to Rome’s military. Previously, military organization had been minimal to Romans with property holdings, who would serve for a couple of seasons and also then return to their farms. Yet in 107 BC, to cope with farming demands for military manpower, the roman commander Marius opened up the military to landless peasants and also extended the length of army service. End the following century, the Roman army was transformed into a full-time, professional fighting force. Marius additionally reorganized the Romans’ fighting formations, moving away from staggered maniples in favor of 10 larger formations dubbed cohorts. Fighting successfully in this formation forced greater skill, but the professionalized roman legions had actually time to find out the necessary maneuvers.

11) exactly how Augustus trained the roman inn legions

Jack Keilo after ~ the Marian reforms, roman inn generals had actually to promise rewards — one of two people booty captured abroad or land awarded to them on your return — to lure soldiers to their banners. Because commanders to be responsible because that making sure these promises were kept, the troops progressively felt an individual loyalty to this generals fairly than abstract loyalty to the roman inn state. As a result, in the so late Republican duration (107 BC come 27 BC), it came to be increasingly typical for victorious leaders to march your armies ago into Rome and also seize power to ensure your troops received the soil they had been promised. This caused recurrent civil wars, eventually transforming Rome from a moderately autonomous republic right into an autocratic empire. This map depicts the deployment of Rome’s legions as soon as Rome’s very first emperor, Augustus, died in 14 AD. Augustus and his successors dispersed the Roman military along the frontier, ensuring that no solitary general had actually command of much more than a small fraction of Rome’s troops at any one time. And emperors reduced the soldiers’ dependency on their commanders by payment them wages from the imperial treasury. (Click the image to see the full map.)

12) A roman inn warship

Rome wasn’t initially a major naval power, however when the Romans came into conflict with the Carthaginians, they establish they required to beat catch-up. They immediately built 20 triremes — therefore named since it had actually 3 financial institutions of oars — and 100 quinqueremes — more heavier ships with five rowers for each financial institution of oars. Start with the triumph over the Carthaginians in 201, Rome began to demand that defeated foes provide up their naval forces, providing Rome undisputed mastery over the Mediterranean. For the very first two centuries of the royal era (beginning in 27 BC), Rome managed the Mediterranean so totally that it wiped the end piracy and didn’t need to fight any significant naval battles.

The republic i do not care an empire

13) Julius Caesar conquers Gaul

In 58 BC, Julius Caesar took command the Rome’s northern frontier and collection out to conquer Gaul, i m sorry corresponds around to modern-day France. He was following in the footsteps of various other ambitious Roman political leaders who had actually led foreign occupations as a means to bolster your reputation at home. This map reflects Caesar’s exploits, i m sorry took nearly a decade and also brought him to nearly every component of contemporary France. Caesar created an account the this project that, remarkably, quiet survives today. While he to be on campaign, Caesar’s enemies gained the upper hand in Rome and also declared martial law. If Caesar had actually returned come Rome together a exclusive citizen — there is no his military for backup — he would certainly have confronted trial because that alleged misdeeds prior to his departure (the charges had some merit, however he was far from the very first Roman politician to bend the rules). However Roman legislation forbade a basic on project to enter Italy at the head of one army. In 49 BC, Caesar took the fateful step of crossing the Rubicon, the flow that significant the northern border of Italy, with his army. That triggered the civil battle that would destroy the roman inn Republic. (Click the photo to view the complete map.)

14) Caesar wins the civil war

unified States army Academy department of background The forces opposing Caesar in the civil war were led by Pompey, a previous political allied of Caesar who had once took pleasure in a cable of army victories in the East. This map reflects Caesar’s movements as he beat Pompey and then dealt with Pompey’s allies. Pompey at first fled come the east; Caesar consolidated manage of Spain and Italy prior to following him. The decisive fight came on august 10, 48 BC, as soon as Caesar beat Pompey at the battle of Parsalus, in the phibìc of contemporary Greece. Pompey fled come Egypt, yet officials there betrayed him and also sent Caesar his head. In ~ this point, Caesar’s dominance over Rome was a foregone conclusion, yet it took him another three years to mop up resistance native Pompeian forces. He returned to Rome because that the final time in 45 BC. (Click the photo to watch the complete map.)

15) Julius Caesar is assassinated

Jean-Léon Gérôme Julius Caesar no the first Roman army commander come march top top the capital and take that by force, but he was the an initial one who didn’t also pretend that he was maintaining the constitutional framework of the old republic. He had himself asserted dictator for life and also flirted through kingship. This ran afoul of a deep taboo in roman culture. After ~ all, Rome’s establishing legend was about the citizens of Rome increasing up to depose a despotic king. So on in march 15, 44 BC, in maybe the most well known murder in people history, a group of disgruntled senators surrounding Caesar and stabbed him to death. Brutus, one of the assassins, supposedly shouted “sic semper tyrannis” — “thus constantly to tyrants” — as he ceded the fatal blow, though this is probably apocryphal. Unfortunately, when the conspirators observed themselves together defenders that Rome’s republican system of government, they didn’t actually have a arrangement for bringing ago the republic. Instead, Caesar’s death plunged the Roman people into yet another civil war.

16) The battle of Actium provides Augustus Rome’s first emperor

Future Perfect in ~ Sunrise Julius Caesar’s death would result in a war between the two men who had actually the strongest insurance claims to it is in Caesar’s heir. One to be Caesar’s longtime deputy, Marc Antony. The other was Caesar’s teenage grand-nephew, Octavian, who Caesar adopted posthumously in his will. Antony and Octavian initially dealt with side by next to avenge the death of Julius Caesar. Yet after Antony walk east and also became romantically associated with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, he and Octavian had a falling-out, bring about war. This map reflects the war’s decisive battle, the battle of Actium, in 31 BC. Antony and Cleopatra tried to flee native Octavian’s advancing army by sea, yet he to be intercepted through a navy commanded through Octavian’s deputy, Agrippa. Octavian’s ships won the battle, and although Antony and Cleopatra escaped, they no longer had sufficient forces to pose a significant threat come Octavian. Antony and Cleopatra died a year later, leaving Octavian the sole leader of the roman inn world. Octavian adjusted his name to Augustus in 27; historians treat this together the year when the roman inn Republic ended up being the roman inn Empire.

The shed city that Pompeii

17) The eruption of mountain Vesuvius

MapMaster among our wealthiest sources of information about ancient Rome comes from the eruption of mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It ruined several roman towns, many notably Pompeii and also Herculaneum. The existence of these communities was forgotten for countless centuries, but the thick layer of ash deposit by the eruption kept them for modern-day archeologists. This has given us information around daily life in a Roman city that would have been daunting to attain from other sources. Inscriptions, graffiti, and also frescoes carry out insight into how various structures were used and also what human being did in the town. Interestingly, we have a at the same time account that Vesuvius’s eruption native the Roman author Pliny the Younger, that witnessed the eruption firsthand, and whose uncle died trying to rescue victims.

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18) The excavation that Pompeii

Wikimedia Commons The website of Pompeii was an initial rediscovered in 1599, however only a few artifacts to be uncovered prior to interest in the site waned. Excavation began in earnest after the website was found a second time in 1748, and has ongoing to the present day. This map shows archaeologists’ progress. Some areas of the town have yet to be explored as result of restrictions applied by the authorities. In enhancement to archaeological teams, the site is checked out by numerous tourists every year.