Roman Influences On Modern Society
Roman Culture has had many influences on the way we build and live in modern civilization. Many aspects of our government system were conceived and perfected in the roman culture. Building techniques and engineering concepts that now form the backbone of our infrastructure were invented thousands of years ago out of necessity by the Roman Empire. The Romans were also largely responsible for the spread of Christianity, which was (and is) a large part of our development as a society. The Romans were one of the first civilizations of their kind, their 1000 year reign of power found them Making new discoveries and inventions out of necessity to support their ever growing society.
As the roman empire grew, cities became larger and larger, as did the recourse requirements to keep them sustained. The Romans found that a high population compact city could be very productive, and very powerful, but the natural resources in the immediate area became too sparse to support the massive growth. Most towns prior to the roman empire were small enough in population that resources such as food and water could be taken easily from the surrounding areas without fully depleting them. And waste could be easily disposed of because f the relatively small amount. The problems Rome started to encounter were that the demands of their massive empire were greater then what the area could provide, so they were forced to look further for water, food, and ways to get rid of their waste. This forced innovations such as sewers, aqueducts and roads.
Roman Ingenuity created techniques and materials that are still being used today, by almost all cultures. They invented the first evolution of cements, which enabled architecture and engineering to advance leaps and bounds over previous cultures and styles of building. Concrete also spurred further development of basic physics and engineering ideas, such as stress and counter stress, weight limits, and building systems such as beam and lintel, and mortise and tenon joinery. Another invaluable development was that of the arch, previously, the size of building was limited by their ability to cover the roof. Previously the only styles of roofs involved beams that spanned the entire building, or traditional pitched roofs. The arch enabled them to span large space without the use of interior columns, which advanced the style and function of the building unimaginably. Arches also lead to several types of vault ceilings, that are still used and respected in cathedrals and buildings worldwide. Romans also found uses for arches in the design of structural elements in bridges, by having the top of the arch support a beam that was elevated above the origin plane of the arch.
Many of our infrastructure items are taken for granted nowadays like roads, pipelines, Ect. But imagine our society without them, we would have to use only what could be easily carried my hand or horse. Water would be impossible for cities such as LA, and Las Vegas, as most of their water is imported from far away sources. Many bridges are still made with the help of arches, which were discovered my Romans. Pipelines carry everything from oil to sewer to fresh drinking water, and were also started in roman society. Straight roads were pioneered by the Romans as well, they excavated valley and leveled hills to create more efficient transportation networks, instituting their arches and concrete to create road that were more efficient and required less maintenance… sound familiar? These roads enabled the Roman Empire to link its cities like never before. Our entire infrastructure is inspired by or evolved from many of Rome’s innovations.
Many of their innovations seem like common sense now, such as the arch, with a keystone to hold it together, or columns, or pipelines, but someone had to think of it, implement it, and perfect it. Rome had almost 40 million gallons of water coming in to the city daily, through the use iof aqueducts and pipelines. This was the first major implementation of this technology, and it was vital to the coherence of the roman empire. And it was all done from the start; Romans are often credited with the creation of modern science in general, including philosophy, the metric measuring system, there is very little in our modern society that is not an evolution of ancient technologies. Our governmental system was derived directly from the one developed my ancient roman society.
City planning has obviously evolved somewhat since the days of ancient Rome, But many aspects can be traced back to the roman empire. Roman towns were often laid out in even more planned grids than some of our modern cities. Cities like London and Paris were founded with roman ideals in mind, with their radial focus, and highly ordered arrangement. Influences can also be clearly seen in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. with its columnar elements and old fashioned styles, some of our governmental building could have been taken directly from the heart of Rome. Military fortification of cities was also developed and perfected by the Romans, defense tactics were under constant architectural development.
There is a certain sense of style that remains from Rome, and can be seen in institutional and governmental architecture around the world, especially in Europe. Undoubtedly their buildings were inspiring, with their large scale, detailed adornments, and awe inspiring design. Again, take a look at Washington DC, or London or almost any European city, there are columns, arches, and vaulted ceiling in all of the most important and respected buildings. There are ways to build similar spaces using newer technology’s, but they just don’t inspire the same sense of grandeur and importance that old style roman or greek architecture can. There is a certain attitude that this style of building inspired that modern architecture cannot, and it may never be fully outdated.
Roman culture, especially the city of Rome itself was one of the first cultures to be populative enough (estimated at over 1 million people), and efficient enough to begin to devote large amounts of man hours to development of new ideas and technologies. As the city became established, and tasks became streamlined, man hours were freed up for other things, such as philosophy, education, and innovation. Soon ideas and studies flowed from Rome like water, architectural advancements jumped, governments advanced, and the empire expanded. But like all great society’s, Rome expanded too much, andeventually crumbled from the inside out.
So you don’t have to look far in our current society to see the influence of ancient Rome; it’s in our roads, our buildings, our pipelines and bridges and even in our governmental and religious systems. There will always a place for roman architecture and style in our society, because Rome is our society. We might be somewhere very different today if it were not for roman influence.