Throughout history, inventions have defined civilizations and changed the way we live our lives. The ancient world was full of possibilities when it came to making life easier since there was so much to invent and discover. Ancient Rome is undoubtedly one of the most well-known civilizations for inventions that changed the course of human development. However, in many cases, Roman invention was more accurately innovation, bringing about changes to existing technology. Without further ado, here is a list of the top 10 ancient Roman inventions that led to major advances in engineering and architecture, establishing the Romans as one of the most dominant civilizations of the contemporary period.
Top 10 Ancient Roman Inventions
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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know Were Inventions of the Roman Empire
Scale model of Rome. The archaeologist who created it claims it took 36 years to complete and is the most accurate model of Ancient Rome.
It is unimaginable how much of our modern life has been influenced by ancient civilizations. Following my previous articles on Mesopotamian and Chinese inventions, the time has come to discuss the numerous significant Roman inventions that changed not only life in the ancient world but generally can be considered as predecessors to important modern inventions or have remained in use 2000 years later.
9. Last member of the Flavian Dynasty
Members of Flavian Dynasty
Domitian belonged to the Flavian Dynasty which came into rising after the fall of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. The dynasty took over from 68 BC after the fall of Nero, the last emperor of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.
There were a total of three Emperors in the Flavian Dynasty which began in 69 BC and fell in 96 BC with the death of Domitian.
The first emperor of the Flavian Dynasty was Vespasian, father of Domitian, who ruled from 69 BC to 79 BC. The second one was Titus, brother of Domitian, who ruled from 79 BC to 81 BC. And, the last heir of this dynasty was Domitian, who ruled from 81 BC until his death in 96 BC.
The dynasty began with loyal and professional army formation and the expansion of membership of the Senate, created by Vespasian. Whereas, Domitian started with autocracy, focused on confiscations of costly shows, buildings, and games.
The Flavian Dynasty fell and was empowered by Marcus Cocceius Nerva as an emperor on the same day of Domitian’s assassination.
10 inventions to thank the Roman Empire for
Here are ten of the best Roman Empire inventions. The list is quite impressive. Even now, their developments continue to touch our lives and contribute to the world.
When you visit Rome, you’ll see some stunning and impressive ancient structures still standing in some shape or form. The Pantheon, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum are all examples of buildings that were built by the Romans using a form of cement. It’s not the cement we use today, but as an early form it was effective and it was used in many of their structures and developments.
The #Pantheon, Rome. The most preserved building of Ancient #Rome, built using #Roman cement.
2. The Aqueduct
The Romans didn’t invent the idea of transporting water. There were primitive canals and other water transportation systems in place before Ancient Roman times. However, they harnessed the idea, developed and refined it, and using their engineering skills to build the Aqueduct. This was a really impactful and impressive development since it brought clean water into towns and cities, and it played a role in other developments, like sanitation.
The Trevi fountain is still supplied by an ancient Aqueduct built by the Romans.
The Romans gave us sanitation. Using their aqueducts, they brought clean water into cities and towns, and they kept waste away from clean water, and they also developed sewers to take waste out of the cities. They used the water from the aqueducts to flush the sewers and the drains. In Rome itself, many of the homes in the city were connected to a detailed sewerage structure. Other important locations in the Roman Empire had the same developments. It was a massive step forward for public health.
Romans developed a sophisticated structure of roads and highways. This was a crucial part of managing such a vast Empire. They built 55,000 miles throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. It helped them to move supplies, soldiers and communications around their land efficiently. Romans also introduced signs and markers on their roads.
Roman roads were known for being very straight, taking the quickest route from A to B.
5. Social care and welfare
Ancient Roman administrations also developed welfare type programs.
They developed laws that provided money to help feed and educate orphans and poorer children from society.
Ancient #Rome was a pioneer of welfare which aimed to help those who couldn’t help themselves.
6. Julian Calendar
The Romans developed the Julian calendar, which also had 365 days split into 12 months. It was based on the solar year and named after Julius Caesar who implemented it. Some religious bodies still use it today to calculate holidays.
7. Elements of surgery
The Romans built on the developments the Greeks made in surgery. They developed many new surgical tools and techniques themselves. The Romans also used an early form of antiseptic in surgery - since they acknowledged the need to clean and dip their surgical tools before use. They developed the idea of the caesarean section. They also pioneered battlefield surgery and for them, being prepared to medically help their soldiers was a key part of being battle ready.
8. Elements of the modern legal system
Rome’s legal system formed the basis for many legal systems around the world. They developed the concept of being innocent until proven guilty. They also developed a code called ‘the twelve tables’ that listed punishments for crimes. Terms like ‘pro bono’, ‘subpoena’ and ‘affidavit’ all derive from the Roman legal system.
9. Newspapers / public press
Romans were the first to distribute a form of daily news to citizens. These handwritten sheets of announcements were publicly displayed in Rome. They also covered political developments, military updates and details about major scandals or stories. The Romans published accounts of what happened in the senate and it was Julius Caesar who made sure this information was made public, in the same way the daily news was.
Caesar’s statue in #Rome – the emperor of Rome who published accounts of the Roman Senate for ordinary citizens.
10. Postal service
The size and growth of the Roman Empire made transporting communication necessary. Emperor Augustus developed the first postal and courier service – a state run courier and carriage service that took communication from one official to another across the Roman Empire.
Cursus Publicus was the state run postal service of Ancient #Rome. A key factor in helping the Roman Empire to function.
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What were the great contributions of Rome to the world?
Although the originality of its contributions is questioned, there is no discussion in which the Roman was a civilization that innovated, improving the existing technology and putting it at the service of the majorities. In fact, it will be seen that the public, had great relevance in the surrounding environment.
1. Aqueducts and bridges
They were built with the purpose of bringing fresh water to urban centers from distant sources. They were designed in the form of large structures with arches and with the ideal inclination so that the water did not flow very fast (and erode the stone), nor very slow (and evaporated or turned into mud).
Once the water reached the cities, the large reservoirs supported it. It was then transformed into a network, a system connected to public baths, fountains, toilets and private villas. They also included pipes and sewers.
The first aqueduct was Aqua Appia (312 BC), which was underground and was 16 kilometers long, while the bridge that is best preserved is the Puente del Tajo in Alcántara.
2. The Julian calendar
It owes its name to its inventor, Julius Caesar , Who created it with the aim that the whole Roman Empire shared a common calendar.
It is based on the duration of a solar year, although he calculated it badly in about 11 minutes and a half, so it is later replaced in many latitudes by the Gregorian calendar that only made a few minor modifications. However, the Julian calendar is still used by many Orthodox churches.
He instituted the 12 months in a year: January, by the god Janus February, for the Februa festival March by Mars May, by the goddess Maia June, by the goddess Juno, April, which means aprire or open in allusion to the flowering of spring July, by Julio César August, by the Emperor Augustus September, for being the seventh month October for being the eighth And so on until December.
3. Roads and highways
The construction of one of the most sophisticated road systems of antiquity was one of the main reasons that facilitated the expansion and domination of the Roman Empire.
In approximately 700 years, they built some 55,000 miles of paved roads around the Mediterranean basin and across Europe, ensuring the effective transport of goods, soldiers and information.
The Romans were among the first to use road signs and mile markers, and endeavored to build straight routes to make the journey faster.
In fact, many modern European roads follow the ancient Roman roads, as they use the most direct route to connect the cities.
As with the calendar, Roman numerals emerged, between 900 and 800 BC, as a standard counting method that could be efficiently used in communications and commerce.
They replaced numbers that could not satisfy the demands demanded by the calculations that merited the trade of the time, and although they also had defects (such as the absence of the number zero and uselessness for the calculation of the fractions), is a system of numbers that It is still used for various purposes.
One of the reasons why structures such as the Pantheon, Colosseum and Roman Forum stood for so long, is precisely a material used by the Romans to build them: concrete.
That compound they created differs from what is known today Was combined with volcanic rocks (tuffs), which allowed the resulting concrete to withstand possible chemical disintegrations and, therefore, to make the constructions more durable.
Although today a basilica is almost exclusively associated with the Christian church, this type of structure was created by the Romans as a place for any large gathering, and the most common use was that of courts. The best example of this type of construction is the Basilica of Severan in Lepcis Magna (216 AD).
They also excelled in architecture by building large bathrooms using their characteristic arches and domes, and including swimming pools, hot and cold rooms, fountains and libraries.
In addition to the imposing private houses with their gardens or large blocks of apartments built in brick, concrete and wood, for the less affluent of the city.
Rome was the first empire that established a system to circulate information among its people, called Diary Act (Daily Events), handwritten news sheets with data on political events, trials, military campaign, executions, etc.
They also had the Acta Senatus, a record of proceedings in the Roman Senate, which was only accessible to the public after the reforms introduced by Julius Caesar during his reign.
8. The Right
Rome being a slave society where one could own property and human beings, it was necessary to regulate property, establish rules and know how to punish those who broke the law.
Thus arises the Roman Law, which contemplates norms, laws, codes and dispositions that regulate the behavior in the civil, penal, property, inheritance, diplomacy and family field.
Its influence was such that today, practically, all the civil codes of Europe and America are inspired by the Roman Law.
Likewise, it was they who formed the concept of a republic, according to which public officials are elected by the people through suffrage and according to their merits. Notion very present in today's democratic states.
9. Network-based cities
Although the idea of a city created in the form of a grid was not of the Romans, they were responsible for improving it and taking it on a larger scale.
A basic Roman grid was characterized by a rectangle or square in an orthogonal layout of streets, in which the two main streets would intersect at right angles in the center of the grid.
In this way, it was easier and more natural to organize the different components of the city Housing, theaters, public baths, markets and shops in private blocks.
With this configuration they constructed cities from Great Britain to North Africa, Italy and also throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region.
10. Sewage and sanitation
Rome had an extensive network of sewers and drainage that ran along the streets, connected to most of the houses in the city, and which was washed with runoff water from local streams.
Waste was discharged into the nearest river (usually the Tiber).
In short, ancient Rome was a nation within which inventions that changed the course of human nature and the development of different civilizations emerged or were improved in fields as diverse as architecture, agriculture, medicine or sport.
Sewers are perhaps best taken for granted, no-one wants to spend too much time talking about them. Roman sewers are the model for what we still use today.
Aqueducts, gave the people of Rome water, and, from around 80 BC, sewers took the resulting waste away, often from another innovation, the public latrine.
The first sewers were used to deal with floods rather than human waste. In time the greatest city in the world had the greatest sewerage network to match its magnificent buildings.
A sewer built during the reign of Emperor Domitian (81-96).
By 100 AD, individual houses were connected to the sewers, though usually those of the wealthy first. Roman sewers were incorporated into the modern city’s sanitation system and many still stand today.
6. The Library of Alexandria
Although it wasn’t a technology, the legendary Library of Alexandria warrants a place on this list, if only because its destruction meant that so much of the collected knowledge of antiquity was forever lost. The library was founded in Alexandria, Egypt in roughly 300 B.C., most likely during the reign of Ptolemy Soter. It marked the first serious attempt to gather all the known information about the outside world in one place. The size of its collection is not known (though the number has been estimated to be in the neighborhood of one million scrolls), but the library undoubtedly attracted some of the great minds of its day, among them Zenodotus and Aristophones of Byzantium, both of whom spent considerable time doing scholarly work in Alexandria. The library became so important that there is even a legend that all visitors to the city would have to surrender their books upon entering so that a copy could be made for storage in the great library.
How was it Lost?
The Library of Alexandria and all its contents burned sometime around the first or second century AD. Scholars are still uncertain just how the fire was started, but there are a few competing theories. The first, which is backed up by historical documents, suggests that Julius Caesar accidentally burned the library when he set fire to some of his own ships in order to block the path of an advancing enemy fleet. The fire spread to the docks and then enveloped the library. Other theories contend that the library was sacked and burned by invaders, with the Emperor Aurelian, Theodosius I, and the Arab conqueror Amr ibn al ‘Aas serving as the main contenders. However the Library of Alexandria was destroyed, there’s little doubt that many of the secrets of antiquity were lost along with it. We’ll never know for sure just what was lost, but had it remained standing, there’s an argument to be made that many of the technologies on the list would have never been lost.
Though several inventors did pioneering work on electronic voice transmission (many of whom later filed intellectual property lawsuits when telephone use exploded), Alexander Graham Bell was the first to be awarded a patent for the electric telephone in 1876. His patent drawing is pictured above.
Though several inventors did pioneering work on electronic voice transmission (many of whom later filed intellectual property lawsuits when telephone use exploded), Alexander Graham Bell was the first to be awarded a patent for the electric telephone in 1876. (His patent drawing is pictured above.) He drew his inspiration from teaching the deaf and also visits to his hearing-impaired mom, according to PBS. He called the first telephone an "electrical speech machine," according to PBS.
The invention quickly took off, and revolutionized global business and communication. When Bell died on Aug. 2, 1922, according to PBS, U.S. telephone service stopped for a minute to honor him.
Ten amazing inventions from ancient times
Dating back thousands of years are numerous examples of ancient technology that leave us awe-struck at the knowledge and wisdom held by people of our past. They were the result of incredible advances in engineering and innovation as new, powerful civilizations emerged and came to dominate the ancient world. These advances stimulated societies to adopt new ways of living and governance, as well as new ways of understanding their world. However, many ancient inventions were forgotten, lost to the pages of history, only to be re-invented millennia later. Here we feature ten of the best examples of ancient technology and inventions that demonstrate the ingenuity of our ancient ancestors.
Heron Alexandrinus, otherwise known as the Hero of Alexandria, was a 1 st century Greek mathematician and engineer who is known as the first inventor of the steam engine. His steam powered device was called the aeolipile, named after Aiolos, God of the winds. The aeolipile consisted of a sphere positioned in such a way that it could rotate around its axis. Nozzles opposite each other would expel steam and both of the nozzles would generate a combined thrust resulting in torque, causing the sphere to spin around its axis. The rotation force sped up the sphere up to the point where the resistance from traction and air brought it to a stable rotation speed. The steam was created by boiling water under the sphere – the boiler was connected to the rotating sphere through a pair of pipes that at the same time served as pivots for the sphere. The replica of Heron’s machine could rotate at 1,500 rounds per minute with a very low pressure of 1.8 pounds per square inch. The remarkable device was forgotten and never used properly until 1577, when the steam engine was ‘re-invented’ by the philosopher, astronomer and engineer, Taqu al-Din.
The Nimrud lens is a 3,000-year-old piece of rock crystal, which was unearthed by Sir John Layard in 1850 at the Assyrian palace of Nimrud, in modern-day Iraq. The Nimrud lens (also called the Layard lens) is made from natural rock crystal and is a slightly oval in shape. It was roughly ground, perhaps on a lapidary wheel. It has a focal point about 11 centimetres from the flat side, and a focal length of about 12 cm. This would make it equivalent to a 3× magnifying glass (combined with another lens, it could achieve much greater magnification). The surface of the lens has twelve cavities that were opened during grinding, which would have contained naptha or some other fluid trapped in the raw crystal. Since its discovery over a century ago, scientists and historians have debated its use, with some suggesting it was used as a magnifying glass, and others maintaining it was a burning-glass used to start fires by concentrating sunlight. However, prominent Italian professor Giovanni Pettinato proposed the lens was used by the ancient Assyrians as part of a telescope, which would explain how the Assyrians knew so much about astronomy. According to conventional perspectives, the telescope was invented by Dutch spectacle maker, Hans Lippershey in 1608 AD, and Galileo was the first to point it to the sky and use it to study the cosmos. But even Galileo himself noted that the 'ancients' were aware of telescopes long before him. While lenses were around before the Nimrud lens, Pettinato believes this was one of the first to be used in a telescope.
Research carried out last year on an ancient site excavated by the National Trust for Scotland in 2004 revealed that it contained a sophisticated calendar system that is approximately 10,000 years old, making it the oldest calendar ever discovered in the world. The site – at Warren Field, Crathes, Aberdeenshire – contains a 50 metre long row of twelve pits which were created by Stone Age Britons and which were in use from around 8000 BC (the early Mesolithic period) to around 4,000 BC (the early Neolithic). The pits represent the months of the year as well as the lunar phases of the moon. They were formed in a complex arc design in which each lunar month was divided into three roughly ten day weeks – representing the waxing moon, the full moon and the waning moon. It also allowed the observation of the mid-winter sunrise so that the lunar calendar could be recalibrated each year to bring it back in line with the solar year. The entire arc represents a whole year and may also reflect the movements of the moon across the sky.
Scientists studying the composition of Roman concrete, which has been submerged under the Mediterranean Sea for the last 2,000 years, discovered that it was superior to modern-day concrete in terms of durability and being less environmentally damaging. The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock. For underwater structures, the combination of lime and volcanic ash with seawater instantly triggered a chemical reaction in which the lime incorporated molecules into its structure and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together. Analysis of the concrete found that it produces a significantly different compound to modern day cement, which is an incredibly stable binder. In addition, the ancient concrete contains the ideal crystalline structure of Tobermorite, which has a greater strength and durability than the modern equivalent. Finally, microscopic studies identified other minerals in the ancient concrete which show potential application for high-performance concretes, including the encapsulation of hazardous wastes. "In the middle 20th century, concrete structures were designed to last 50 years," said scientist Paulo Monteiro said. "Yet Roman harbour installations have survived 2,000 years of chemical attack and wave action underwater.”
Research has shown that artisans and craftsmen 2,000 years ago used a form of ancient technology for applying thin films of metal to statues and other items, which was superior to today’s standards for producing DVDs, solar cells, electronic devices and other products. Fire gilding and silvering are age-old mercury-based processes used to coat the surface items such as jewels, statues and amulets with thin layers of gold or silver. From a technological point of view, what the ancient gilders achieved 2000 years ago, was to make the metal coatings incredibly thin, adherent and uniform, which saved expensive metals and improved its durability, something which has never been achieved to the same standard today. Apparently without any knowledge about the chemical–physical processes, ancient craftsmen systematically manipulated metals to create spectacular results. They developed a variety of techniques, including using mercury like a glue to apply thin films of metals to objects. The findings demonstrate that there was a far higher level of understanding and knowledge of advanced concepts and techniques in our ancient past than what they are given credit for.
Although we still cannot accurately predict earthquakes, we have come a long way in detecting, recording, and measuring seismic shocks. Many don’t realise that this process began nearly 2000 years ago, with the invention of the first seismoscope in 132 AD by a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, engineer, and inventor called Zhang (‘Chang’) Heng. The device was remarkably accurate in detecting earthquakes from afar, and did not rely on shaking or movement in the location where the device was situated. Zhang's seismoscope was a giant bronze vessel, resembling a samovar almost 6 feet in diameter. Eight dragons snaked face-down along the outside of the barrel, marking the primary compass directions. In each dragon's mouth was a small bronze ball. Beneath the dragons sat eight bronze toads, with their broad mouths gaping to receive the balls. The sound of the ball striking one of the eight toads would alert observers to the earthquake and would give a rough indication of the earthquake's direction of origin. In 2005, scientists in Zengzhou, China (which was also Zhang's hometown) managed to replicate Zhang's seismoscope and used it to detect simulated earthquakes based on waves from four different real-life earthquakes in China and Vietnam. The seismoscope detected all of them. As a matter of fact, the data gathered from the tests corresponded accurately with that gathered by modern-day seismometers!
An ancient Norse myth described a magical gem used to navigate the seas, which could reveal the position of the sun when hidden behind clouds or even before dawn or after sunset. Now it appears the myth is in fact true. In March 2013, a team of scientists announced that a unique calcite crystal, which was found in the wreck of an Elizabethan ship sunk off the Channel Islands, contains properties consistent with the legendary Viking sunstone and that shards of the crystal can indeed act as a remarkably precise navigational aid. According to the researchers, the principle behind the sunstone relies on its unusual property of creating a double refraction of sunlight, even when it is obscured by cloud or fog. By turning the crystal in front of the human eye until the darkness of the two shadows are equal, the sun's position can be pinpointed with remarkable accuracy.
The Baghdad Battery, sometimes referred to as the Parthian Battery, is a clay pot which encapsulates a copper cylinder. Suspended in the centre of this cylinder—but not touching it—is an iron rod. Both the copper cylinder and the iron rod are held in place with an asphalt plug. These artifacts (more than one was found) were discovered during the 1936 excavations of the old village Khujut Rabu, near Baghdad. The village is considered to be about 2000 years old, and was built during the Parthian period (250BC to 224 AD). Although it is not known exactly what the use of such a device would have been, the name ‘Baghdad Battery’, comes from one of the prevailing theories established in 1938 when Wilhelm Konig, the German archaeologist who performed the excavations, examined the battery and concluded that this device was an ancient electric battery. After the Second World War, Willard Gray, an American working at the General Electric High Voltage Laboratory in Pittsfield, built replicas and, filling them with an electrolyte, found that the devices could produce 2 volts of electricity. The question remains, if it really was a battery, what was it used to power?
The Lycurgus Cup, as it is known due to its depiction of a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman chalice that changes colour depending on the direction of the light upon it. It baffled scientists ever since the glass chalice was acquired by the British Museum in the 1950s. They could not work out why the cup appeared jade green when lit from the front but blood red when lit from behind. The mystery was solved in 1990, when researchers in England scrutinized broken fragments under a microscope and discovered that the Roman artisans were nanotechnology pioneers: they had impregnated the glass with particles of silver and gold, ground down until they were as small as 50 nanometres in diameter, less than one-thousandth the size of a grain of table salt. The work was so precise that there is no way that the resulting effect was an accident. In fact, the exact mixture of the metals suggests that the Romans had perfected the use of nanoparticles. When hit with light, electrons belonging to the metal flecks vibrate in ways that alter the colour depending on the observer’s position.
The Antikythera mechanism was discovered in 1900 during the recovery of a shipwreck off of the Greek island, Antikythera, in waters 60 meters deep. It is a metallic device which consists of a complex combination of gears, and dates back to the 2nd century BCE. The Antikythera mechanism is one of the most amazing mechanical devices discovered from the ancient world. For decades, scientists have utilized the latest technology in attempts to decipher its functionality however, due to its complexity, its true purpose and function remained elusive. But in the last few years, a number of scientists appear to have solved the mystery as to precisely how this incredible piece of technology once worked. Peter Lynch, professor of meteorology at University College Dublin, explains: “The mechanism was driven by a handle that turned a linked system of more than 30 gear wheels…The gears were coupled to pointers on the front and back of the mechanism, showing the positions of the sun, moon and planets as they moved through the zodiac. An extendable arm with a pin followed a spiral groove, like a record player stylus. A small sphere, half white and half black, indicated the phase of the moon. Even more impressive was the prediction of solar and lunar eclipses.” Amazingly, the device even included a dial to indicate which of the pan-Hellenic games would take place each year, with the Olympics occurring every fourth year. Just one small cog out of 30 remains a mystery and it is hoped that further research can place this last piece in the puzzle.
#2 Back Scratch Grid T-Shirt
This t-shirt solved a problem that has troubled man since ancient times – telling people where exactly to scratch one’s back. It has a grid so that you can specify where you want your back to be scratched. Like – “scratch cells E4, E5, F5 and F6.”
Tagline – No one will ever miss the itchy spot again.
Roman roads were long and straight
You would not need much steering.
They really were a triumph of
Now, every schoolchild knows
About the Roman roads,
But Romans gave us so much more,
Yes, they invented loads.
Aqueducts – those big arched bridges
Which brought the water down
From the rivers in the hills
To the folk in town.
They gave us public libraries,
Great if you were a keen reader.
Before then books were hard to find -
There were no Kindles either.
The Romans built some public baths,
They built the sewers too.
Presumably, before they came,
The whole place smelled of poo!
They gave us apples, pears, and grapes,
Cabbages, turnips, carrots, peas.
Thanks to them we can now all eat
Our five-a-day with ease.
Glass for windows was another
Great invention of Rome’s.
And central heating too keeps us
Warm inside our homes.
They invented the calendar,
It’s just as well because
Without it you would never know
When your birthday was.
They gave us the police force and
Invented the street light.
Before then it was quite unsafe
To walk the streets at night.
In fashion, men wore the “toga” –
A big white woollen sheet
It was draped from the shoulders to
The sandals on their feet.
So let’s give thanks, they left behind
So much when they had gone.
And let us give thanks also that
Wearing togas never caught on.