Lesson 20:The Remarkable Romans


Lesson 20:The Remarkable Romans
Level: Y
DRA: 60
Informational Text
Main Ideas and Details
Word Count: 2,053
Online Leveled Books
6_025230_OL_LRSE_CVR_L20_Romans.indd 1
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By Amy S. Jones
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1
All Roads Lead to Rome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Chapter 2
Bringing Water into Rome . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Chapter 3
Roman Architecture. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Chapter 4
From Polybius to Ben Franklin . . . . . . . 15
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
12:57:29 PM
The next time you stand over your kitchen sink and watch
the water whoosh down the drain, thank the ancient Romans.
Building a sewer system may not sound like a very exciting
achievement. But just think what your life would be like
without it!
There are other signs of Roman culture all around us
today. Many of our bridges and buildings were built in the
Roman style. The ancient Romans also built huge sports arenas
that could have seated enough people for a pro football game.
Building a large stadium or a long bridge requires more
than heavy lifting. It takes the brains of an architect and the
ability to solve problems. In this book, you’ll see how the
Romans did so many remarkable things.
The ancient Romans designed and
built many bridges.
12:57:56 PM
Chapter 1
All Roads Lead to Rome
The city of Rome was
the center of the Roman
Empire. It was a bustling hub
for government, culture, and
trade. Plus, it was literally at
the center of the Roman road
network. Think about our own
Interstate Highway System.
It can take you from one side
If the Roman
roads were laid
out end-to-end,
they would
go around the
world twice!
of the country to the other. It
makes traveling much faster.
Over 2,000 years ago, the Romans built one of the world’s first
highway systems. It covered more than 50,000 miles. The roads
radiated out of Rome in straight lines and in all directions.
In ancient times, it was said that “All roads lead to Rome.”
12:57:59 PM
The roads were first built for military use. The Roman
army was given the task of constructing the roads. At first, the
roads were only a few miles long. But as the Romans extended
their empire, they extended the roads as well. When a new
place was conquered, a road was built to access that city from
Rome. This way, leaders in Rome could keep a closer eye on
what was happening in the empire’s outlying areas.
Trade on Roman Roads
Besides being used for the military, the road network
was also used for trade. Most trade goods were still moved by
water, though. The roads were used for commerce only for very
short distances.
Plus, the roads did not connect the outlying provinces to
each other. Roman leaders did not want to encourage trade
among the provinces. They wanted people to trade only with
Rome. Signposts along the roads did not give information
about the nearest town. Milestones only said how far it was
to Rome.
Roadside Rest Stops
The Romans built rest stops every 15–20 miles along its
long network of roads. In those days, people traveled in four
ways. Some walked or rode horses. Others rode in carts pulled
by oxen or in horse-drawn chariots. At a typical rest stop, tired
horses and oxen could eat hay and drink fresh water from a
trough. A rest area might even have a chariot “service station”
with mechanics standing by.
Travelers enjoyed other nice features at the rest stops.
Objects salvaged by modern archaeologists show that people
ate meals at a gourmet restaurant. Fossil imprints and bones
suggest that they ate a lot of chicken and
pork. Side dishes might have been bread,
rice, lentils, and fruit. Weary travelers
could then spend the night at a comfortable hotel with central heating.
Roman Raceways
The Roman roads would have been
fun for modern racecar drivers! They were
made of flat stones and were completely
straight. Roman engineers knew that the
shortest route between two points is a
straight line.
They wanted travel on their roads to
be very efficient. The roads rarely curved,
even when faced with major obstacles.
Instead, the Romans built bridges to go over bodies of water.
Tunnels were dug through mountains so the roads wouldn’t
have to go around them. For a meager fee, messengers carried letters from one side of the empire to the other in just a
few days.
This magnificent road system had a downside, too. Rome’s
enemies also used the road network. Enemy armies traveled
easily along the roads, which led them straight into Rome.
Roman roads sloped down in the middle and had ditches on either side. This
drained the rainwater so the roads wouldn’t flood. This road is in England.
Chapter 2
Bringing Water into Rome
The road system wasn’t
the Romans’ only impressive
feat. They also found a way
to bring water into Rome
— by building aqueducts.
An aqueduct is a humanmade channel through
which water flows. Roman
engineers designed a system
that brought fresh water from
The Roman
aqueduct system
supplied water to
about 200 cities,
including Rome,
which had a population of about
1 million people.
mountains and rivers right
into people’s homes.
Much of Rome’s water system was underground and out
of sight. Channels were dug through dirt and rock, then pipes
were put in. Have you ever gone down a water slide? Gravity
pulls the water down the slide — and you come with it! The
engineers who designed the channels thought about gravity,
too. They built the channels at angles so that gravity would
pull the water through the pipes and keep it moving.
The Aqueducts
Sometimes channels couldn’t be dug underground. Pipes
would have to be above ground, to ensure that gravity could do
its job. So, the Roman engineers built special aqueducts. They
made archways out of stone and brick to support the channels.
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Only 30 of the 260 miles of Rome’s water system
featured the arched aqueducts.
Building arches instead of a solid wall saved on building materials and labor. They also made the aqueducts more beautiful to
look at. Rome’s ancient water system is now dormant, although
many aqueducts still stand today. They can be seen in Greece,
Italy, France, and Spain.
Aqueducts in the United States
New York City’s water supply comes from three huge
aqueducts that bring water to the city from 120 miles
away. The state of California has the largest aqueduct
system in the world. It covers 444 miles.
Roman Baths
The Romans had access to clean water, and they knew
how to use it! One important part of Roman culture was taking
a bath. Unlike some cultures
at that time, many Romans
took a bath every day. Most
people did not have bathtubs
in their houses, though.
Instead they went to a public
bath. Rome had almost 900
public bathhouses. They were
opulent buildings decorated
with marble statues, mosaics,
and gardens.
Taking a bath was a
Ancient Romans
didn’t use soap.
Instead, they
covered their
bodies with oil.
Then they used a
special tool
to scrape the oil
off their skin.
slow, luxurious process. First,
bathers spent time in a warm,
steam-filled room. Underground fires warmed the marble
floors. Then they dipped themselves in a series of baths, beginning with a pool of very hot water. The rooms (and pools) got
progressively cooler. In the last room, bathers were subjected to
an ice-cold bath!
Besides their obvious purpose, public baths served as a
meeting place for social gatherings. After taking their baths,
Romans spent hours of leisure time in the library or garden.
They could watch acrobats or jugglers. They could get a haircut
or a massage. Attendants served people food and drinks as
they chatted with their friends.
Some Roman bathhouses have been preserved.
They are very popular tourist attractions.
Bathhouse Rules
Men and women sometimes had separate facilities.
If they did have to share the same bathhouse, they
entered at different times of the day.
12:59:47 PM
Chapter 3
Roman Architecture
Another remarkable
aspect of Roman culture
was their architecture. The
Romans proved that buildings
could be both practical and
beautiful at the same time.
Many of their structures have
stood the test of time.
Two of the most recognizable features of Roman
architecture are arches and
columns. In order to build the
huge arches and columns that
Roman arches and
columns can be
seen in American
architecture today.
Two examples are
the Washington
Square Arch in
New York City
and the Supreme
Court building in
Washington, D.C.
supported their structures, the
Romans invented concrete.
Some think this invention was Rome’s greatest contribution
to later civilizations.
You already know that arches were featured in the Roman
aqueduct system. Their bridges also featured arches. Using a
concrete arch system as support meant that bridges could be
miles long.
The Colosseum
The ancient Romans built one of the most famous buildings in the world — the Colosseum. It is known for the arches
in its design. The Colosseum was a four-story high arena.
12:59:50 PM
It could seat almost 50,000 people. This huge stadium was used
for entertainment. The shows usually featured gladiators and
wild animals.
The Colosseum had 80 entrances. The arena’s unique
design and large number of doors allowed the entire crowd
to exit the building in just five minutes. Some experts claim
that even if you had been sitting in the Colosseum’s “cheap
seats,” you would have had a great view of the action. They say
that your view would have been much better than in many of
today’s modern stadiums.
Today, more than two-thirds of the Colosseum is gone.
Strong earthquake tremors led to its collapse. Over thousands
of years, people have removed pieces of the debris. What is left
of the building still stands as an impressive monument to the
ancient Romans who built it 2,000 years ago.
Gladiators performed in the Colosseum
for almost 400 years.
The Roman Forum
In ancient Rome, a forum was an outdoor marketplace
where people bought and sold goods. It was a place to gather
with friends and exchange news and gossip. It was where
emperors showcased their finest buildings. Rome had several
forums in different places around the city.
The most famous of these is the Roman Forum. It was
located at the very center of ancient Rome. It served as the
main headquarters of Roman commerce — and also politics
and public debate. It was a busy, bustling place. For many, the
Roman Forum was not only the center of the city, but the center
of the universe. Its ruins make up an impressive display of
Roman architecture that can still be seen today.
1:00:03 PM
Chapter 4
From Polybius to Ben Franklin
Finally, one of the Roman Empire’s greatest gifts to later
cultures was its form of government. It was a representative
democracy. This means that the people elected representatives
to act for them. In this way, many people could each have some
say in their government. This is the same kind of government
that the United States has today.
Groundwork for American Democracy
Polybius (poh LEE bee uhs) was an ancient Greek. But he
was very interested in Roman history. He wrote 40 books about
the Roman Republic. One of his books discussed the benefits of
Rome’s type of government.
Many years later, in the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin read
that book. He was very interested in what Polybius had to
say. Rome had a unique government. It was divided into three
branches — executive, legislative, and judicial. These three
branches had a system of checks and balances. This way no
one branch could become too powerful.
Franklin sent each of the Founding Fathers a copy of
Polybius’s book. They used it to write the United States
Constitution in 1789. The U.S. government is modeled after that
of ancient Rome. So, think of the Romans next time an election
takes place!
Note the columns on many of the
Roman Forum buildings.
1:00:33 PM
The Legacy of the Romans
Ancient Rome is now long gone, but it will not be
forgotten. Few countries today remain unaffected by Roman
culture. The Romans were a very practical and innovative
people. As a result, they left behind a rich legacy that has lasted
more than 2,000 years. What would we have done without the
ancient Romans?
The Twelve Tables
Rome’s laws were organized into 12 sections, so they
were called “The Twelve Tables.” They were displayed in the
Roman Forum where people could easily see them. Here are
a few of their laws:
• If it’s your tree, it’s your fruit — even if it falls on your
neighbor’s land.
• If a person has sung or composed a song that insults
someone else, that person shall be killed.
• A judge who has been caught accepting bribes in
exchange for giving a decision shall be put to death.
Remarkable Contributions
of the Ancient Romans
Architecture and Engineering
• concrete
• public baths
• road network
Art and Literature
• mosaics
• mythology
• poetry
• realistic sculpture
Government and Law
representative democracy
system of checks and balances
three-branch division of government
the Twelve Tables (Rome’s first written laws)
The legacy of the Romans
lives on today.
1:01:08 PM
aqueduct (AWK wuh dukt) n. a human-made channel
for moving water
architecture (AWR kih tek chur) n. the art and science of
designing and constructing buildings
commerce (COM muhrs) n. the buying and selling of
goods and services
engineering (ehn juh NEER eeng) n. the science of
designing and planning machines or structures
forum (FOH ruhm) n. a public square or marketplace in
ancient Roman cities
gladiator (GLAD ee ayt ur) n. a professional fighter in
ancient Rome
mosaics (moh ZAY iks) n. decorative pictures made from
small colored pieces of stone or glass
radiate (RAY dee ayt) v. to spread out from a
central point
republic (ree PUHB lik) n. a form of government in
which citizens vote for representatives to make laws
1:01:10 PM
TARGET SKILL Main Ideas and Details
What is the main idea of The Remarkable
Romans? Copy the diagram below. Write the
main idea and add supporting details to the
Main Idea:
Supporting Detail: Romans gave us
representative democracy.
Supporting Detail:
Write About It
Text to Self Write two paragraphs explaining
which Roman achievement you think is the most
important. Use details from the book that you
explain in your own words.
1:01:15 PM
TARGET SKILL Main Ideas and Details Identify
a topic’s important ideas and supporting details.
TARGET STRATEGY Visualize Use text details to
form pictures in your mind of what you are reading.
GENRE Informational Text gives facts and examples
about a topic.
Write About It
In a famous quotation, Aung San Suu Kyi said,
“Please use your freedom to promote ours.”
What freedoms do you value most? Why? Write
a letter to the editor of a Burmese newspaper
explaining the freedoms you have and why they
are important to you.
1:01:18 PM
Level: Y
DRA: 60
Informational Text
Main Ideas and Details
Word Count: 2,053
Online Leveled Books
6_025230_OL_LRSE_CVR_L20_Romans.indd 1
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