Roman Civilization: Timeline, Facts & Contributions

This lesson covers several important events, facts, and contributions of Rome and the later Roman Empire, from its mythological founding to the decline and fall of the Western Empire in 476 CE.
Background of Roman Civilization
The history of Rome is an extraordinary story that spans thousands of years. It’s a story that describes a small village that grows in size, strength, and importance to become the largest empire the world had ever seen up to that point. At its peak, Rome embraced between one-sixth and one-fourth of the whole world’s population, and it stretched from Britain to the deserts of the Middle East.
Understanding the history of Rome is important to understanding global history for the last 2,000 years. This lesson offers a general timeline of the rise and fall of Rome, important facts about the empire, its conquests, its culture, an overview of the contributions made by Rome to world history, and the legacy of the empire that can still be seen today.
A Timeline of Roman History
Famously, Rome began in 753 BCE. 1,229 years later, the last Roman emperor in the Italian peninsula was deposed and the empire came to an end (at least the western half of it, as the eastern half persisted in various forms until 1453). During that time, Rome underwent many changes in its government and way of life. This timeline lists important dates and try to summarize why each event was significant. We’ll look at the date, the event in question, and the story behind it.
Date Event The Story
753 BCE The founding of Rome Legend has it that on the 21st of April, brothers Romulus and Remus founded Rome. Romulus eventually kills Remus to become the first king and names the city after himself.
509 BCE The Republic begins After the last of seven kings, Rome begins the Republic period during which it is ruled by senators and has a constitution.
218 BCE Hannibal invades Hannibal of Carthage attacks Rome and invades Italy during the Second Punic War.
73 BCE Spartacus slave uprising Spartacus, a gladiator, leads an army of slaves in a series of battles. Spartacus and his men were caught and crucified.
45 BCE Julius Caesar becomes a dictator After Julius Caesar wins the civil war, he establishes himself as a dictator for life and supreme ruler of Rome, thus ending the Roman Republic.
44 BCE The death of Julius Caesar On March 15th, known today as the Ides of March, Caesar is assassinated on the steps of the Senate by factions wishing to bring back the Republic.
27 BCE The Roman Empire begins Even though Caesar was a dictator, the first leader to call himself ”Emperor” or Augustus was Octavius.
64 CE The Great Fire of Rome Most of the city is destroyed in a vast fire. Emperor Nero has often been blamed, but modern scholarship doubts this.
80 CE Building of the Colosseum One of the most iconic ancient buildings in Rome, the completion of the structure was a massive celebration.
122 CE Hadrian’s Wall A wall was built across the North of England and marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire.
306 CE Constantine becomes emperor This marks a change in the way that Christians were treated in Rome. Constantine himself became a Christian.
380 CE Christianity becomes the official religion This will have an effect on the rest of European history to the present day.
395 CE Rome splits In an effort to make administration of the vast empire easier, Rome becomes two separate empires (Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire) with two capitals and two rulers.
410 CE The attack of the Visigoths This marks the beginning of the fatal weakening of Rome that would lead to its downfall.
476 CE The end of the Western Roman Empire The last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustus is deposed and the Middle Ages begin.
The Contributions of Rome
In historical scholarship, the Romans are often viewed as a people who were excellent at taking an idea and making it better. As an example, while they didn’t invent the stone arch, the Romans turned it into a truly functional architectural component. With that said, the Romans contributed much to Europe and beyond, and the legacy of their inventiveness persists to this day. Here are a few Roman innovations that are familiar to us thousands of years later. We’ll look at the contribution and then explain its significance.
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