Thursday, July 05, 2012

World History I: Roman Civilization Arises in Italy

Roman Civilization Arises in Italy

The Italian peninsula is centrally located in the Mediterranean Sea, and the city of Rome sits toward the center of Italy. This location would benefit the Romans as they expanded—first within Italy and then into the lands bordering the Mediterranean.
Unifying the Lands of Italy
Because of its geography, Italy proved much easier to unify than Greece. Unlike Greece, Italy is not broken up into small, isolated valleys. In addition, the Apennine Mountains, which run down the length of the Italian peninsula, are less rugged than the mountains of Greece. Finally, Italy has broad, fertile plains in the north and the west. These plains supported the growing population.
Early Peoples Settle Italy
By about 800 B.C., the ancestors of the Romans, called the Latins, migrated into Italy. The Latins settled along the Tiber River in small villages scattered over seven low-lying hills. There, they herded and farmed. Their villages would in time grow together into Rome, the city on seven hills. Legend held that twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, had founded the city. Romans regarded this tale highly because the twins were said to be sons of a Latin woman and the war god Mars, lending the Romans a divine origin.
Ancient Italy About 500 B.C.

For: Interactive map
Web Code: nap-0611

Map Skills
At the time the state of Rome was founded, the Romans’ many neighbors on the Italian peninsula included other speakers of Italic languages such as Latin.
(a) Rome (b) Apennine Mountains (c) Mediterranean Sea (d) Carthage (e) Tiber River
Based on this map, which group would you think most influenced the Romans? Explain.
Make Generalizations
What do you think are some advantages and disadvantages of living near a variety of different peoples?

The Roman god Jupiter, whose traits resembled those of Tinia, an important Etruscan god
The Romans shared the Italian peninsula with other peoples. Among them were Greek colonists whose city-states dotted southern Italy and the Etruscans, who lived mostly north of Rome. The origins of the Etruscan civilization are uncertain. One theory says they migrated from Asia Minor, while another suggests they came from the Alps. What is certain is that, for a time, the Etruscans ruled much of central Italy, including Rome itself.
The Romans learned much from Etruscan civilization. They adapted the alphabet that the Etruscans had earlier acquired from the Greeks. The Romans also learned from the Etruscans to use the arch in construction, and they adapted Etruscan engineering techniques to drain the marshy lands along the Tiber. As well, the Romans adopted some Etruscan gods and goddesses and merged them with Roman deities.
How did geography influence the origins and expansion of Rome?