Geography and Maps
The development of civilization is affected by geography. Rome did not spring into being as a power on the Italian peninsula. It began as a tiny village along the Tiber River. It was an excellent location, with seven hills offering a natural defensive barrier. The Tiber River gave these early settlers access to fresh water for drinking and bathing, as well as a waterway for trade, and food to eat. The flatland, on the other side of the Tiber River, was perfect for farmland. The soil was good so crops could be grown easily.
In ancient times, there were enemies everywhere. These early people still had to feed, shelter, bathe themselves and water their animals. The area along the Tiber River, in the seven hills, offered what they needed. They started their city on the top of one hill. They walled around it. As they expanded, they also expanded their wall, until one wall encircled all seven hills.
Rome was protected by two mountain ranges, the Alps and the Apennines. The Alps ran along the northern border and protected Rome during the winter months. The Apennines cut the Italian peninsula in half, giving Rome needed protection, especially in the early days when Rome was growing, and developing an army.
Rome was also in a central location in the Mediterranean region. The Romans could reach France in a couple of days on horseback. By boat, they could reach Spain, Greece, and Africa. That helped Rome to become the center of international trade around the Mediterranean.
There is an old saying: Rome was not built in a day. But with all these advantages, it's no wonder that Rome grew quickly.
Ancient Rome Maps - see below (free use clipart for kids and teachers, for kids and teachers, right click and save to your computer)
Map #1 (below): Rome as a Kingdom (in yellow)
Map #2 (below): Rome as a Republic (in green)
Map #3 (below): Rome as an Empire (in orange)
Map #4 (below): Rome is divided into two empires, the Western Roman Empire (including Rome) and the Eastern Roman Empire (including Constantinople.)
Map #5 (below): Barbarians Attack Rome! The
fall of the Western Roman Empire (in dark orange.)
The Eastern Roman Empire (in green), renamed the Byzantine Empire after the fall of Rome, flourished for another 1000 years!