What are some pragmatic Roman achievements?

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The Romans maintained a large standing army that helped protect and expand their borders. Most other civilizations of the ancient world only raised an army during times of war. The Romans kept a professional army at all times. This meant that they had highly trained soldiers ready to fight at a moment's notice. Furthermore, soldiers did not have to be from Italy. Provincials made up a large part of Rome's fighting force. This meant that every time a new territory was added to the empire, the pool of available recruits grew even more.

Client States

Sometimes, when the Romans conquered a new territory, they left local rulers in charge. These became known as client rulers or client kings. These local rulers were subservient to the rule of Rome and were required to pay tribute and provide soldiers to Rome. The Romans found that this arrangement was less expensive and a more practical way to keep a far-flung province in line than direct occupation and rule. This system of client states was a cost-effective way to extend dominion over such a vast geographic area.

The Latin Alphabet

The Romans adapted the Greek and Etruscan alphabet to suit their own language. This writing system, which is still used today, allowed scholarship to flourish throughout the Roman Empire. It proved useful when transcribing other languages, but it also helped to spread the Latin language throughout Roman-occupied lands.

The Julian Calendar

Prior to the dictatorship of Julius Ceasar, the Romans used an inaccurate lunar calendar. This made long-term planning a difficult process. The old calendar was also easily manipulated to serve a particular politician's agenda. Ceasar solved this problem by adapting the sun-based Egyptian calendar. This formalized dates throughout the year. In fact, the current Gregorian calendar is an adaptation of this Roman accomplishment.

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The influence of the ancient Roman civilization can still be seen in our society today. Here are some highlights.


Romans borrowed what they knew from the Greeks and then made it their own. They used columns, curved roofs, and large-scale arches in their construction to bear more weight and to increase the size of the structures they were able to build. By doing so, they were able to build increasingly large bridges and aqueducts, improving travel and transportation.

They were also able to use this knowledge to build large places for people to gather for entertainment, such as the Colosseum. This oval shape with tiered seating still exists in many sporting arenas today because it is capable of housing many people effectively.


The Romans figured out how to use volcanic ash and rock to create cement, which was remarkably strong in construction. They also determined that, when it was submerged underwater, the concrete would become incredibly strong; the seawater reacted with the volcanic ash to create crystals, filling in any cracks in the concrete. This, again, helped create bridges and other structures that improved travel in ancient Roman civilizations.


The ancient Romans constructed over 74,000 miles of roads by first laying down gravel and then paving them with huge rock slabs. Because it was so expansive, the saying emerged that "All roads lead to Rome." An ability to move people efficiently from one place to another not only helped trade but also strengthened Rome's military presence.


Techniques developed by the ancient Romans are still used by farmers today: crop rotation, pruning, seed selection, and the use of manure as fertilizer. They also learned to use mills to process grains, which greatly improved the efficiency of the harvest.


In the ancient Roman justice system, citizens accused of crimes were first taken to a preliminary hearing. If enough evidence of a crime was presented, a high-ranking Roman citizen would try the case, and witnesses and evidence would be evaluated. Roman laws became the foundation of many of the world's current legal practices because they were effective in examining crime from the least-biased lens possible.

. . . and Beyond

The Romans were certainly world leaders in many other areas—including art, language, and poetry—and the influence of their contributions still permeates the world today.

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One major Roman achievement would be the quality of the empire's roads. A sprawling empire with lands in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa needed a good road system. These roads were valuable for trade as well as warfare. Even after the fall of Rome, the road system remained intact and in use throughout the Middle Ages.

Another Roman achievement would be the aqueduct system. Roman aqueducts gave the city a continuous supply of clean water. Romans valued their bathhouses, and these had both hot and cold water. Roman attitudes toward bathing were quite advanced for their day, as Romans realized the value of cleanliness as well as relaxation.

The Romans also had highly developed sewer systems. These served the empire by getting rid of toxic wastes, keeping disease down even though Rome was a crowded place. By the Middle Ages, much of this system was in decline and Rome would be hit by several disease outbreaks. During Antiquity, however, Rome was one of the most advanced cities, thanks to its attention to transportation and hygiene.

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