004 Early Roman History

We spent a day at the Museum of Roman Civilization. Again, our feet were very tired from standing most of the day in the museum. The period of time covered was from the beginning of Rome until the 6th century AD. Rome governance was frequently based on military might rather than the rule of law, especially in later years. Emperors or other political leaders would create a law by edict, and then battle the armies loyal to other leaders to assert and enforce their edicts. The system worked for several centuries since water was plentiful, agricultural production was high, and the empire was continually growing in the first six hundred years. When rural people were taxed too much and the expansion rate of the empire reduced or stopped, there was insufficient income to finance the armies and insufficient people to conscript or force into the mercenary armies. The system weakened and was overcome by neighboring peoples who wanted to tap into some of the remaining wealth.

From about 300 BC to about 200 AD, there were good laws, good leaders, and amazing engineering and construction. In 95 AD, Julius Frontinus was appointed water commissioner (curator aquarum) for Rome by Emperor Nerva Augustus. Frontinus studied his assignment and wrote “On the Water Supply of the City of Rome” which contains detailed history, engineering, construction, water quality, and maintenance data for the various water sources for Rome. Up to that time, nine major aqueducts had been built with a total distance of 421 kilometers, and supported a population in Rome of 1,000,000 people. There was a continual problem of people tapping into the aqueduct without approval or getting approval by bribing water officials. The first aqueduct was built in 312 BC. Water supply certainly had a lot to do with the success of Rome. The following link contains the complete text of the document by Frontinus: http://www.uvm.edu/~rrodgers/Frontinus.html, which is very easy to read.

The museum had many descriptions of the history and events in each period of time. They were in both Italian and English. We spent most of the morning reading these descriptions. When the museum was about to close, we hurried through the second half of the museum and just got a glimpse of the very large model of the city built in a 1:200 scale. At the time of Constantine (306 to 337 AD), Rome was an impressive city.


About rockinos

Recently retired and moved to Rome, Italy. It's a fantastic place, so we have started this blog to keep family and friends updated with a few details about our adventures.
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