Ancient Rome's Geography

Ancient Rome was a civilization created in the middle of Italy in 753 B.C.E. which lasted until 476 C.E. and dominated the Mediterranean Sea and European trade routes throughout the classical era. Many distant lands and cultures were for a varying amount of time incorporated into this state as it grew from a monarchy into a republic which then evolved into an empire. This slideshow will try to present Rome at these different stages of development and provide some context for what was occurring at these different points in time.

Rome during the monarchy period. This is the time when Rome is established. Legend has it that this period contained seven traditional kings, with an eighth being possible. Rome incorporates some neighboring tribes from Latium territory but at the start of the republic still finds itself facing many strong peoples on the Italian peninsula including the Greeks, Etruscans, Italic tribes, the remaining Latin tribes, and the Gauls. In fact, the Gauls invade Rome in 390 B.C.E. and force the Romans to pay a heavy price for their departure. Source

Expansion of the Roman Republic from 300 C.E. to the Second Punic War. The Roman and Latin tribes were integrated into one civilization by this point. Rome then focused on gaining territory from the Italic and Gallic tribes in order to consolidate their power on the Italian Peninsula. The Punic wars were also occurring at this point in time. While the Greek generals lost many of their territories during the Pyrrhic War, the Kingdom of Syracuse would retain its independence until the year 212 C.E. Source

Ancient Rome was also fighting the Punic Wars against the Carthaginian Empire. After the war ended in Rome's favor in 146 C.E., all the territory above was incorporated into the empire and represented a major expansion into the Mediterranean Sea. The Punic Wars represent a major shift for the Romans as they move from maintaining a strong infantry to also establishing a strong navy to protect their new assets and trade routes from piracy & other threats. Source

The Roman Empire near its height. This image was drawn in 1624 and contains Latin captions. The Roman Empire had expanded into parts of modern-day North Africa, Greece (Graecia), Syria, Anatolia, France (Gallia) Armenia, Egypt (Aegyptus), Spain (Hispania), and Britain (Brittanica). Source

The Roman Empire in 117 C.E. at it's greatest extent. This map clearly indicates the way that Rome was organized into provinces based on the ethnicities in those regions. Many of the Latin names for these provinces were used in the modern-day names for their political successor states. Rome was led by Emperor Trajan at its height. Source

Rome begins to crumble as the quality of emperors goes down due to the fact that the position is allocated to the highest bidder instead of those men with merit. The Empire begins to be partitioned into different pieces. Reunification and repartitioning occur multiple times. Eventually two Roman "empires" form, one in the east and one in the west. The western Roman Empire traditionally ends around 476 C.E. while the eastern Roman Empire ends around 1453 C.E. Source

Europe in 526 C.E. Only the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire, remains. The former Western Roman Empire fragments into different political spheres of influence controlled by different Gallic, Hispanic, and Celtic tribes. Source

Here is another resource for those who wish to see more time periods:

Courtesy of the Vindolanda Museum and ISO Design

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