The Romans designed and built one of the most impressive road networks of the ancient world. This allowed for a rapid pace of movement by a variety of users during the republican and imperial eras. Ask students to review the map and make observations about how this network would have facilitated transportation within the empire. Discuss how it might affect Rome’s ability to transport soldiers and military equipment to distant frontiers of the empire. Also, discuss how commerce might be supported with such a transportation network.
The map also shows Rome’s trading network on the seas. Once it reached its territorial limits in A.D. 117, Rome controlled territory as far west as Spain and Northern Africa, to as far east as the upper regions of the Middle East. A defining characteristic of Rome’s empire is the numerous port cities under its control, which allowed Rome to dominate the Mediterranean Sea. Discuss with the class how the location of these cities allowed Rome to enrich itself and maintain a stable maritime trading network. Point out the icons of traded goods next to each city name. Ask students what impact these goods had on the Roman trade network.