At the height of the Roman Empire, millions of people from Spain to North Africa were starting to adopt the Roman way of life. The Romans exploited the economic resources of the conquered territories while the military initiated the first spread of Romanization to the areas and local people. The locals usually maintained a great deal of freedom when it came to cultural expression but the locals who did choose to engage with Roman economy and culture could rise to great heights within the midst of the great empire.
The locals in the conquered areas would also soon benefit from the Romanization improvements of their towns and cities.
The Romans economy heavily relied on the conquering of new areas and in turn they put a lot of construction and manpower into turning these areas into a representation of Rome and Roman culture.
Some of the great Roman structures that they implemented not only in Rome but in the areas where they conquered were structures that we use today in our own towns and cities. The Romans built roads, rivers and canals to move heavy loads, bridges, public buildings and temples were some of these. They also created water provisions or aqueducts, most Roman towns had at least one aqueduct to bring in fresh water and big cities such as Rome had 10 or more which were constructed over a period of about 500 years. They were a sophisticated system of canals, channels, and pipes. The Romans built numerous aqueducts to serve any large conquered city, small towns or work sites.
Building an aqueduct was a huge project and they relied on gravity to bring water inland from rivers. The Romans built aqueducts in France, Germany, Spain, North Africa, Turkey and Israel. The Pont Du Gard aqueduct provided the city of Nimes with water for the 50,000 inhabitants and the full length of the aqueduct measured over 31 miles. The Romans looked at the construction of the large, magnificent and efficient aqueducts as one of their greatest triumphs in their construction of structures both in Rome and throughout all of their empire as it gradually expanded.
Another structure often seen within the Roman Empire were military style fortifications. Most of these fortifications and walls began during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. He had a wall built and named after himself and known as “Hadrian’s Wall” also called the “Roman Wall”. It was built by a large force of men in under six years and measured about 73 miles. The wall’s height and width varied depending on the construction materials located nearby and stretched across the area of modern-day Northern Britain below the border of modern-day Scotland. After Hadrian’s death, the next emperor Antonius Pius began building another wall about 100 miles north of Hadrian’s Wall which was to be called the “Antontine Wall” and measured about 37.8 miles in length across the area later known as the Scottish Lowlands. After the Romans had conquered the largest part of their empire they now had to guard and defend the borders. The Romans would build roads to these areas in case of civil unrest or in times of rebellions so they could be quickly supplied and reinforced.
Another structure that Romanization introduced to the “barbarians” of the lands that they conquered were the public Roman baths. One of the most well-known sites of these Roman baths was in Bath, England. The Romans also built a Roman temple at the site. Evidence found at the site shows that might have also been an area used for worship by the Celts. They fell into disrepair and were eventually destroyed not long after the Roman withdrawal from Britain. The actual original Roman baths are located beneath the modern streets and the area is a well-known and popular tourist attraction today. Most Roman men and women would visit the baths daily, for Romans washing and keeping clean was important. But they also used the public bath houses like we use health spas today. The Romans would go there to exercise, bathe and socialize as well. Women usually went in the morning while men were working and men usually went there after work. Many wealthy Romans even had their own baths built in their own villa homes.
Romans were obviously advanced at architecture and building and they also introduced new building techniques and ideas that had never been used or done before in construction. In addition to the aqueducts, they also built sewer systems, they used arches in their buildings and architecture styles frequently. They were also the first builders known to use concrete, they used bricks, constructed beautiful and detailed mosaics. They built large town homes and villas for the wealthy Romans, usually built or centered around courtyards or gardens. Roman palaces were usually huge and sprawling with many rooms, marble floors, running water, heat and many murals and mosaics decorating the walls and baths. The Romans also built over 200 amphitheaters, every city had a forum or marketplace, temples and many public buildings in their conquered lands. Of course one of most famous Roman building is the colosseum which even influenced modern stadium designs and could seat up to 80,000 people. The areas in Britain that you can still see the influence and remains of Romanization is in York, Chester and Bath as mentioned above.
One thing that is still related and attributed to the Romanization period is the formation of the “Romance Languages” including the 5 most widely spoken languages today: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian. All of these were formed from Vulgar Latin from the spread of the Romans throughout the different areas. Vulgar Latin was the language spoken mainly by merchants, settlers and Roman soldiers. It is different from the Latin spoken by the Roman upper classes and was also used in political matters and were used for legal and “serious” writings.
It is amazing to look at everything the Romans accomplished during the Romanization period and to see the things that they created that we still use today. Everything from the beginnings of different languages or the different types of architecture and construction methods that they began and perfected, the genius of the aqueducts, sewer systems, public baths and the laws that Romans first introduced that we use in the modern world today. They made such amazing advances to so many fields and advanced civilizations that they conquered during the Romanization period which in turn helped spread the good ideas that they had and used even further advancing more civilizations and tribes of people at the time. All of these ideas and advancements were possible because of the Romanization and the Romans conquering the areas that they conquered during that time.
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