On the History.com website to whom we credit the image of this post, once there was an infographic that can help understand how ancient Rome was working at the begining of the Imperial period. The infographic gives an overview on some of the most important achievements of the Roman civilization: water supply,sewer and entertainments.
TESTACCIO AS THE ARTIFICIAL HILL OF ROME
The mount Testaccio is located on one bank of the Tiber river, opposite to Trastevere and just next to the first harbor of Rome, the Portus Tiberinus. As the Latin name implies, the hill has been built with the discarded pieces of amphoras that came from the Spanish colonies to Rome loaded with wine and oil. As Romans did not know about soap at all, once these amphorae completed their trip, they were broken into pieces and thrown over the hill that became the Testaccio.
THE TRAJAN MARKETS
These emporia were not only stores but also warehouses of supply that helped to keep fed the Romans during bad times. The Trajan markets are part of a larger complex, the Trajan Forum, which was built by the emperor Trajan in the second century CE after the addition of modern Romania to the Roman Empire. The famous column located on one side of the Forum shows the trip and the conquest of the Roman army of that land.
APARTMENT BUILDINGS IN ANCIENT ROME
These rental apartments were numerous in Rome: one example is located at the bottom if the medieval staircase of the Aracoeli near the Monument to the Unknown Soldier, but better examples survive in the old town of Ostia antica, where we regularly take visitors. Thes apartments had no water at all, as Romans used fountains to get water for drinking needs and went to the thermal bath to strengthen their hygiene. As these rooms were often connected with wooden staircases, accidental fires caused often their destruction.
THE WATER SYSTEM IN THE ROMAN HOUSES
The wealthy Romans who can afford to built a large house (domus) were allowed to connect their lead pipes to the acqueducts. The pipes had the owner’s name engraved, so it is easier today for the archaeologists to find out the name of the family who owned that property. The rental houses had to arrange the transportation of the water directly from fountains using jars and amphorae. Romans had plenty of water anyway. Historians estimated that at the time of Augustus, there were already 7 out of 11 running aqueducts and Romans could really use all this water to allow their slaves to go around the city clean and in good shape. Slaves were also working under the thermal baths’ floors to heat the walls and the mosaic floors by mean of burning logs whose heat made a day at the public baths a very pleasant experience.
ROMAN POSTAL SERVICE
It was a very basic service ran by the Roman army who needed to communicate across its large territories in Europe. The service was efficient and fast because it used the popular roads that the Romans built, such as the Appian Way.
THE ROMAN CONCRETE
Roman were incredible enginners. They used marble from Italy and Greece to build their temples but for the inner cores of their structural domes and vaults they used a mortar that, once mixed with a compound made of vulcanic ashes, became strong as the marble itself. This concrete dried up very quickly allowing the Romans to erect building and aqueducts in a few months.
THE PANTHEON AS ONE OF THE BEST ROMAN ACHIEVEMENT
The description of this inforgraphic cannot end without mentioning the best preserved monument of Rome: the Pantheon. It was built by the emperor Hadrian in the second century AD on the remains of the first Pantheon built on the same spot by Agrippa, son in law of Augustus. The inscription over the colonnade was placed by Hadrian with a retroactive hommage to the original builder of the Pantheon itself.