• Imagining History

5 Things the Romans did for us - Full of Brilliant Info for Teacher's Lesson Plans

Updated: Oct 5

In 41 AD Emperor Claudius succesfully invaded Britain. It was an accomplishment that no other Roman had managed before him. So well done Claudius, have a back slap and a firm handshake on us. What made his victory all the more impressive was that he had gone and one better than the legendary Julius Caesar, who, despite two attempts, hadn't been able to hold Britain.


Rapidly the lives of the now conquered Celts began to change. The Roman Empire brought a ton of modern improvements with them. They were, as they liked to see themselves, the bringers of civilisation. They werre going to make a Roman out of a bunch of stinky, uneducated and overly hairy barbarians. Some stuff they gave to Britain was not so good - just take a look at the story of Boudica for evidence of this - but they also did positive things too. Here's five things the Romans did for us.


Roads

Roman's would hate a wiggly road like this one.

Yes, I know, roads are boring. When was the last time that anyone ever got excited about roads? Road Spotters are not a thing. But where the Roman Empire went it brought an intrepid team of road builders with them. And for good reason, roads were vital for Roman Armies and their supply train (not a 'choo choo' train, think wagons filled with food and drink) to get where they needed to go faster than anyone else. They also vastly improved trade and communication between the different parts of the Empire.


What did these roads look like? They tended to be straight as that would be the most direct route. Each road would be dug by hand and be built from layers of materials before being topped off with smooth stone slabs.



Sanitation


Would you put your bum here?

The invention of plumbing probably saved more lives than any other example of human progress. For most of human history we've been, quite literally, sat in our own excrement. Being able to flush our poo away to a safe distance proved a brilliant way to avoid the spreading of disease. The Romans proved a poo saviour in this vital first step to modern sanitation; introducing sewers and public toilets to the world.



Baths


Much better than a freezing pond.

The sheer joy of having a warm shower every morning is one of the absolute highlights of living in 2020. Not so much in Ancient Britain. Forget a warm bath, it's a dip in an ice-cold river with slimy fish slapping your legs for you. The Romans helped bring some comfort to go with their conquering by introducing the bath house. Public baths were suddenly available, for a small fee, for most of the population. Many were even heated! No wonder why Romans loved to wash themselves.


Aqueducts


Aqueduct = a bridge for water.

A plentiful water supply is very important if you don't want the population of your town to end up with a severe case of premature death. You need water to grow crops, for industry, to drink and to wash with. Aqueducts (think a man-made river) were brilliant. They enabled Romans to get lots of water to where it needed to go, ensuring there was plenty available.


They were such a hit that by 300 AD Rome had eleven aqueducts - that's an entire football teams worth. Though 11 aqueducts would actually be quite rubbish at playing football, for a start they haven't got any feet. Nor eyes. Nor talent. Not that that ever stopped Manchester United! Football puns, we've got 'em.



Security and Law


The Roman God Jupiter.

Look, don't get me wrong, Roman Law was a bit dodgy. For a start, SLAVERY WAS LEGAL. Need I say more? But the Roman Empire and its laws did help bring stability and order to a chaotic world. There were 12 main laws, written on tablets (please don't try writing a law on your mum's iPad, I'm talking stone tablets), called the 12 Tables. Some of these were pretty weird, one song forbade people from writing rude songs for example, but many helped protect citizens. And that included every citizen in the Roman Empire, even those in Britain.



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