ANCIENT ROMAN INVENTIONS AND TECHNOLOGY
Ancient Roman Inventions and Technology
The Roman Empire was formed in the 8th century BCE as a humble city. Aristocratic kings originally ruled Rome and by the 6th century BCE, it has turned into a republic. Rome started to expand until it had control over the whole Italian Peninsula. However, their government could be referred to as an aristocracy due to the fact that only the influential families who had connections with the original could rule. These families were referred to as patricians while plebeians were the rest of the people. Ancient Rome had remarkable technological accomplishments and some of these advancements were abandoned during the Middle Ages: some resurfaced during the 19th and 20th centuries. Insulated glazing is an example of such inventions and this was lost until its reinvention in 1930s. Other practical Roman innovations were an advancement of original Greek designs. These technological advancements were split into various categories which were done according to craft. Artisans were would keep these technologies as a secret in order to protect their trade. A large part of the Roman inventions included military engineering and civil engineering. These enabled the construction of many auditoria, bridges, roads and baths among others. The Roman architecture, which also borrowed from Greek traditions is still very famous and is termed as “Classical architecture”. Greek and Roman architecture had some differences although Rome used many of the formulaic designs of Greece .
This paper seeks to answer this question by looking at the various Roman inventions and technology and the significance they hold. Personally, I believe the Romans paved way for many of the technology humans enjoy today. This is due to the fact that they originally invented things like concrete to be used in construction and although adjustments and developments have been made from the time of the ancient Rome to date, they still take the glory for inventing this building material. Most of the comforts people enjoy today as a result of technology were brought about by the Romans. For example, the Romans were concerned with hygiene and so they invented the public baths which they were known for and these were referred to as thermae. They later invented many flush toilets and indoor plumbing in their homes which were later subjected to more advancement to create the ones used by humans today. For this reason, it can be argued that roman inventions forms a basis for today’s advanced lifestyle .
Rome was a powerful city for a long time until its collapse in the 5th century AD. The prosperity can be attributed partly to its leadership as well as technological advancements it came up with which made it the most envied and revered cities of its time. Although Rome collapsed, some of its inventions still stand erect a thousand years later indicating how strong they were, a good example of this include the roads made by the roman empire and landmarks such as the colosseum. The impacts of the Roman inventions were felt in various areas such as agriculture where they constructed several aqueducts to help supply the cities and industrial sites with water .
Types of ancient Roman inventions and Technology
The Romans introduced the large and durable bridges that were later emulated by various cities around the world. This was after the invention of stone arch in northern Italy between the 4th and 3rd century AD. These bridges were built between the 1st – 2nd century AD. They were made of both stone and concrete and their structures were formed on the basis of the arches. The arches made by the Romans took a semicircular shape although others were segmental. There is a history of around 931 ancient Roman bridges spread are across Europe most of which were made of stone: these bridges had such sturdy construction that they are still standing to date. Most of these bridges were over five meters wide which gave the impression that they were reasonably large. Majority of these bridges especially the ones meant to carry water were sloped to allow movement of water. The Romans used alternating stonework for their bridges; for example, one layer of the bridge would be made of stones laid lengthwise and the following layer would have its stones facing outwards. Metal bars and dovetail joints were used to link these stones. Looking at this invention, Romans can be credited to have laid the foundation for the bridges built today even though these exact designs may not be applicable in larger bridges .
Another very important invention that was developed by romans is concrete and hydraulic concrete. Although many materials and ratios were tried out to make the perfect concrete for construction, the right mixture was arrived at by 200 BC. The invention of concrete opened doors for a lot of construction in the Roman Empire: some of the monuments can still be seen today meaning they have lasted about two thousand years. There were two main ingredients used to make this concrete which were lime and some special kind of volcanic sands that were mined near the Puteoli city. This resulted into effective building material, suitable for construction of structural and underwater projects. Examples of the great structures built using this concrete were the dome of the Parthenon and the harbor of Caesarea. The former was the biggest of its kind until the 19th century that time and the latter was quite a masterpiece engineers and architects. The Roman concrete also had better resistance against earthquakes. The mixture used to make the concrete was not consistent which made the density to vary. Scientist argue that this made such structures to disrupt the seismic waves, the colosseum stood many disasters but was damaged in 847 AD and later on in 1231 AD by strong earthquakes . Today, concrete is still a major material used in construction. However, some of the materials used have changed and many admixtures have been introduced. The consistence has increased and the density is rather uniform.
The Roman medical technology greatly advanced alongside other fields to an extent that a famous Roman orator named Cicero declared that there is was no other area that Men held nearly the same power as the gods than in medicine. Initially, the Romans didn’t understand diseases and their causes and so they employed various technologies to help deal with them. The Roman doctors came up with tools that even modern surgeons understand; examples include bone drills, surgical saws, scalpels and forceps from 200 BC . The doctors ensured they disinfected their instruments before performing surgery even though they did not fully understand what germs were or how one would get them from non-disinfected surgical tools. In addition, there were several herbs and chemical compounds the Roman doctors developed in order to accomplish cleaner medical procedures and make their patients as comfortable as possible. Garlic, sage and willow are some of the medicinal herbs used by the roman doctors. They also gave their patients painkillers and used vinegar to clean wounds. Some of the instruments mentioned above are still used today by doctors and surgeons even though some have been modified. It all goes back to the Romans since they came up with the original idea which has been advanced with time .
The Romans developed aqueducts to help in transportation of water to the various parts of the empire during the 1st century BC. It was possible to transport water for many miles from both the natural and artificial reservoirs right into the cities. This was possible due to the fact that the aqueducts were built to have a small downward slope. The water had many applications in the city such as in baths, public fountains and even sewers. Aqueducts played a great role in the Roman urban life and helped to support the dense populations of the Roman cities. When the Roman Empire collapsed, many of the aqueducts weren’t used or maintained and so they became damaged. However, there are some aqueducts that have been well preserved. These can be found in former Roman cities. Segovia, Caesarea and Istanbul are some of the cities in which these aqueducts are still present today and usually receive modern visitors interested in having a glimpse of what the Rome glory looked like. Today, although people may use pipes to transport water from their source in to the various cities and towns and even into their taps in houses, industries and other areas, the original idea came from the Romans.
The ancient Romans made technological inventions in various areas of life which made the empire stand and survive for the longest time in history. Although thousands of years have passed from their time, many of their technological inventions have undergone further refinement advancement to obtain the ones used today. The romans are credited to have pioneered many aspects of modern lifestyle. They arguably enjoyed standards of living closest to what is enjoyed today . Some of inventions that are associated with Romans were actually begun with Greeks’ and romans only refined them or applied them practically. Some of the ancient Roman inventions can be seen in different aspects of life such as medical, civil engineering, military engineering among others. In addition, other inventions still stand in various Roman cities and attract thousands of tourists who are fascinated by incredible technological inventions made around 2000 years ago.
Snedden, Robert. 2009. Ancient Rome. Mankato, Minn: Smart Apple Media.
Snedden, Robert. 1998. Technology in the time of ancient Rome. Austin, Tex: Raintree Steck-Vaughn.
Malacrino, Carmelo G. 2010. Constructing the Ancient world: architectural techniques of the Greeks and Romans. Los Angeles, Calif: J. Paul Getty Museum.
Cuomo, Serafina. 2007. Technology and culture in Greek and Roman antiquity. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Krebs, Robert E., and Carolyn A. Krebs. 2003. Groundbreaking scientific experiments, inventions, and discoveries of the ancient world. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.
Weatherill, Sue, and Stephen Weatherill. 1997. ABCæsar: discover the power, intrigues and inventions of Ancient Rome. Kingston upon Thames: B Small Pub.