The story

Rome (continued)


Economy

The economy of the Roman Empire was based on a single currency, low customs duties and a network of protected roads and ports. All this to facilitate trade between the various regions.

Although agriculture was the most important economic activity in the Roman world, the maritime trade in subsistence, exotic or luxury products was quite significant.

Rome, the center of the empire, consumed cereals imported from Sicily and Africa, and olive oil, especially from Spain and Egypt. The colorful marbles used in the main buildings and sculptures of the capital and other cities came from Asia and North Africa.

The ceramic trade, whose main center of production was Arezzo, in Italy, supplied the Roman market, as well as the western, northern and southeastern provinces of the empire.

Factory production was virtually unknown. Most of the articles were made by artisans, who worked with a small production and often directly to the users of the ordered goods. Coin-making workshops were owned by the emperors and organized by their officials.


Roman gold coin depicting the two faces of Janus - 225-212 BC

Roman coin

The roman army

The conquests of the Roman Empire were mainly due to the firmness and discipline of its armies. The largest army unit was the legion, which had 4,800 soldiers each. At the height of the Empire, Roman Peace was defended by thirty legions, or 144,000 soldiers.


The legionaries were very adept at building floating bridges to cross rivers. These bridges and the ability to maintain a walking pace of about 20 miles a day allowed the legions to move very fast.

The legionnaire protected himself with a helmet and one and a breastplate. The legs and knees also had protection. On his left arm he wore a leather-covered wooden shield. He wore leather sandals with iron nails on the soles.

The offensive weapons were three: the pilo (type of spear about two meters), the gladius (short-edged short-bladed sword) and the dagger.



Roman gladius

The legionnaires' equipment also included utensils and tools (canteen, casserole, lunch box, shovel, hoe, sickle, etc.), as well as food (cereal), clothes and a first aid kit. All the equipment weighed about 40 pounds and was transported in a kind of T-shaped wood and metal frame.

Most of the soldiers at the time of the empire were volunteers, that is, they joined the army because they wanted to and not because they were obliged. To be legionary you had to be a Roman citizen and at least five feet tall. The candidate, when accepted, went to a camp where he practiced marching, horseback riding, swimming and combat.