Rome was founded in 753BC by its first king, Romulus. It grew into a rich and powerful city during the next few hundred years.
Roman legend says that Romulus had a twin brother called Remus. As babies, they were abandoned in the area which later became Rome. A she-wolf found and raised them, but when they grew up, Romulus fought and killed Remus and became the first ruler of Rome!
By AD 117 the Roman Empire included the whole of Italy, all the lands around the Mediterranean and much of Europe, including England, Wales and parts of Scotland.
Amazing architects and engineers.
The Romans didn’t spend all their time-fighting – they were amazing architects and engineers too! They built roads and walls – things we now take for granted. To bring water to their cities, the clever Romans built aqueducts – a system of channels and bridges – to transport water for public baths and toilets!
They did not all die young
The average life expectancy – although all such figures are uncertain – was only about 25. However, this did not mean that no one lived into their thirties or on into old age. The average was skewed by the number of women who died giving birth, and by high infant mortality. If a Roman made it to maturity, they were likely to live as long as people in the modern western world.
One of the most famous buildings left by the Ancient Romans is the Colosseum – a huge amphitheater in the center of Rome. This is where members of the public would come to watch sporting events and games, including battles between Roman gladiators!
Very few Roman hours lasted an hour
Like us, the Romans divided the day into 24 hours. But unlike us, their hours varied in length. For the Romans, there were always 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. Thus, for example, a daylight hour in high summer was considerably longer than one in midwinter.
Tunics – two pieces of woolen fabric sewn together at the sides and shoulders, with openings for your arms and head – were the most common clothes in Rome. Some Romans also wore togas – a kind of woolen shawl – to show how wealthy they were.
Not all Romans spoke Latin
Stretching from the Atlantic to the Tigris, the Roman empire contained perhaps about 65 million inhabitants. While Latin was the language of the army and of Roman law, many peoples incorporated into the empire continued to speak their native tongue, either as well as, or, especially in the countryside, instead of Latin. Thus variants of Celtic and Syriac, and more obscure languages such as Cappadocian and Thracian, survived.