Tag Archives: History

Ancient Rome – History and Culture of One of the Greatest Civilizations

Roman Acquiduct

A civilization that can be dated back to the eighth century BC, Ancient Rome started from a small town along the Tiber River. It became an empire that spanned much of Europe, Britain, Asia, northern Africa, and the Mediterranean islands.

Considered to be one of the most influential parts of mankind’s history, the Ancient Roman Empire left many legacies. This includes the use of the modern alphabet, calendar, Christianity (as a major world religion), and laying the groundwork for modern drainage systems and roads. Let’s take a brief look at some of the rich cultural aspects and ways of life in Ancient Rome.

Aqueducts, Water Supply and Sewerage

Renowned for remarkable feats of engineering, the water aqueducts carried water for several miles to provide safe and relatively sanitary water supply to a large number of people.

The latrines in Ancient Rome also relied on aqueducts for water supply, as they used to serve 12 to 60 people at the same time. The primary sewer of the capital Rome was the Cloaca Maxima, which flowed into the Tiber River.

Gladiators

Ancient Roman customs saw gladiators fight each other (often to their deaths) to entertain large crowds of spectators. Gladiators were trained for years to put up a display of the most exceptional warrior skills in circuses or the Colosseum.

The Colosseum

One of the most iconic amphitheaters throughout history, the Roman Colosseum was a marvel of engineering ingenuity, commissioned by Roman Emperor Flavian.

The Colosseum was built as an improvement of the Circus Maximus to serve as an arena for gladiator combats, wild beast fights. It was also said to be filled with water to exhibit mock naval battles.

Roman Gods and Goddesses

While Ancient Rome eventually led to the spread of Christianity as a major world religion, Romans worshipped gods and goddesses much like their Greek neighbors. Ancient Rome offered no native creation myth, nor did it have a lot of mythography that could explain the nature of their deities.

Roman theology acknowledged gods and goddesses that shared more than enough attributes to be considered roughly the same as Greek deities but with different names.

 

About the Author:

Upon retiring from her Information Technology career of 35 years, Amita Vadlamudi now spends her time reading and researching. History, ancient cultures, and modern societies are of particular interest to Amita Vadlamudi.

Mongolian Empire

Mongolian Empire

The Mongol Empire, founded by Genghis Khan in 1206, covered the vast territories of Southeast Asia, expanding as far as central Europe. The Great Mongol Nation was the largest land empire in history, enveloping about 9 million square miles (23 million km square) at its peak, with a population of over 100 million people. The extensive empire unified the Turkic tribes and the nomadic Mongols of historical Mongolia, under the rule of Genghis Khan – a powerful ruler of all Mongols.

In Europe’s Middle Ages, the Mongol Empire began to slowly emerge in the Central Asian steppes, lasting throughout the 13th and 14th centuries. At its highest peak, the empire encompassed today’s modern countries – China, Mongolia, Pakistan, Iraq, Romania, Russia, Persia, Ukraine, Belarus, Cilicia, Georgia, Anatolia, parts of Burma, and Central Asia.

After gaining his supremacy over the Kereit and then the Naiman Turks, Genghis Khan began invading various parts of the world, gradually widening his empire. Needless to say, innumerable people were massacred during the course of Genghis Khan’s conquests. However, Genghis Khan proved to be the hero of religious freedom, allowing his subjects – Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and Taoists – the right to practice their own religion. Moreover, the leader was strictly against torture and brutality and highly encouraged trade by creating the first international postal system.

The Mongol leaders were patrons of different forms of arts, encouraging artists and artisans of all types. Under Genghis Khan’s leadership, textile workers, stone carvers, jewelers, and architects got the opportunity to produce exquisite artwork, appreciated by the Mongol Khans and sub-khans. The Mongols had a distinct taste for music, originating a unique form of singing – khoomi.

Genghis Khan died in August 1227. However, the exact cause of Genghis Khan’s death remains a mystery but alleged causes include illness, falling off the horse during a battle, being killed in a war against the Western Xia.

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece

The civilization of Ancient Greece emerged in the 8th century BC, a sophisticated period of history. Before the archaic period and during the Greek Dark Ages, people of Greece lived in small villages, where farming was their main source of livelihood. As the population grew in number and people became wiser, these villages evolved too. Gradually, proper houses with walls began to be constructed. Marketplaces known as the agora were also built. The government, with laws and constitutions, were set up along with Greek armies that had to protect god and goddess of the state. With the emergence of the archaic period in the 7th century B.C., the city-state had powerful economies based on agriculture. With time, the Greek population began the production of consumer goods like cloth, wine, pottery, and metalwork.

The kings were overthrown by wealthy aristocrats, who took over the best farmlands. Classical Greece prospered during the 5th to 4th centuries BC. In the classical period, political reforms were brought in which gave rise to the “demokratia” system which means “rule by the people”. The archaic period had the most significant impact on the art and literature of that time. Different Greek styles were spread far and wide. The era witnessed a drastic creative revolution. Homer – the epic poet – produced his widely-famous Iliad and Odyssey. Sculptors formed kouroi and korai – sculptures of human figures for memorial purposes. Mathematicians and astronomers contributed to the field of science as well. Xenophanes produced his work on fossils while Anaximandros proposed a theory of gravity.

In the next few centuries, the Greek civilization reached new heights of advancement. Since most Greek city-states were by the sea, they started to engage in trade businesses for their livelihood. Groups of citizens were sent out to find colonies on shores of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. In this way, trading ties with different colonies were established, transforming many Greek cities into prosperous trading centers. The main occupation and livelihood of people living in Athens – the largest Greek city – was trade. Olives grew on the soil of Athens. The fruit was later used for generating export revenue.

Alexander the Great – the conqueror of ancient Greek – occupied many lands and civilizations and spread the Greek culture in the process. After his death in 323 BC, his army fell apart and the men returned back to their homes. In 146 BC, the ancient Romans defeated the ancient Greek in the battle of Corinth. Thus, the ancient Romans were able to replace the ancient Greek civilization and eventually rose to European power.

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Gupta Dynasty of Ancient India

Architecture

The Gupta Empire spanned across the northern, central and southern regions of the Indian subcontinent between 320 CE and 550 CE (Common Era). The period is known for its accomplishment in arts and architecture, science and religion, as well as philosophy.

The earliest signs of the Gupta Dynasty can be traced back to Srigupta, who was a regional monarch at the time, established the dynasty in circa 240 CE. 

Chandragupta (320-335 CE) was mostly responsible for the expansion of this empire. He rose to prominence as the first sovereign ruler of the empire. His reign marked the end of more than half a millennia of provincial powers.

The ascendancy of the Gupta Empire marked a period of progress that flowed into the next two hundred and fifty years. This period became known as the Golden Age in India’s rich and prosperous history.

However, 550 CE marked the end of the Gupta Empire, after it was invaded by the Huna clans.  This invasion led to disintegration, and soon after, the Empire fell into many regional kingdoms.

The most famous Gupta rulers were Chandragupta I and Samudragupta.

The son of Ghatotkacha, Chandragupta was known for utilizing his army effectively. He was gifted abundant mines of iron ores, courtesy of his union with Licchhavi Princess Kumaradevi. Using this means at his disposal, Chandragupta and his kingdom were able to thrive.

Metallurgy was showing promising signs of growth and forged iron was able to meet not just internal demands, but also became a priceless commodity in trade. Combining his cavalry with his resources, Chandragupta and his forces proved too strong for other ruling factions in the region. They subjugated one after the other as the Gupta Empire began in earnest and expanded all the way to Allahabad.

In circa 335 to 375 CE, Chandragupta the first was succeeded by his son Samudragupta. He was known by his subordinates as a master tactician and military genius. Upon ascending to the throne of the Gupta Empire, Samudragupta began an aggressive expansion of the kingdom.

He conquered the remaining regions of North India and then turned his attention to the south. By the time his reign ended, Samudragupta was able to capture parts of southern India as well. During his time the empire spanned from the Himalayas in the north to the south of Krishna and Godavari rivers in the south and from Afghanistan in the west to the Brahmaputra river in the east.

 

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