Summary of Carlson’s “The Romans,” by Chris Selby

In W. Bernard Carlson’s article, “The Romans,” he goes into great depth discussing everything about the Roman Empire. He discusses all sorts of categories, such as: where they started, how they operated, what they ate, their military,¬† and even their different technologies. Some of the Roman ideas are still incorporated into modern society.

Carlson started off by explaining how the Romans originated in Italy by Latins. They traded salt with the Greeks and the Greeks gave them the knowledge of how to use iron and chariots. The Romans ended up adapting a lot of other ideas from Greece as well such as language, military tactics, and ideas of religion. For politics, Rome originally had a king, but was soon overthrown by a group of patricians who then led. Every year, each member of the patricians would select two consuls that could veto other’s decisions. People that had no say in government were known as plebs, and they made their own group so that they could have a say in politics. In 450 BCE, they even made the Twelve Tables which confirmed equal rights to all citizens.

Rome was able to expand its territory because of its military, they expanded by force because of how large their army was. They were even able to defeat Carthage which was founded by the Phoenicians in North Africa by crafting 100 warships.

Carlson explained how advanced the Romans technology was, one piece of evidence was their military weapons. First, they got the hand held crossbow, which had better range than a normal bow and arrow. Then they got the mounded crossbow, or the carroballista that shot even further and required about 11 men to operate. Later, something called an onager developed, and it could launch large stone about 1500 feet.

Carlson then told about the food technology like the new ways to improve crops. He explained how the richer people could afford meats and that wine was something that people couldn’t live without.

The Romans also figured out how to work metal and used it for tools, and used the mine shafts to help prevent flooding. They also discovered a way to divide metals when melting them and how to combine different metals so they were stronger.

Carlson then discussed how the Romans had an amazing system of paved roads. While they weren’t the first to have paved roads, they had the largest and most sophisticated road system at the time. While others were able to make use of the roads, their main purpose was to quicken the military by giving them a road to travel.

One of the key Roman technologies was the development of the arch, and later aqueducts to transport drinking water to cities. They were so sufficient, that eight of them could deliver about 220 million gallons of water a day. Another building technology was their well planned cities, everything was set out in almost perfect coordination.

Today, people still use tons of Roman technologies such as the arch, roadways, and many more ideas. The fact that they still contribute to today’s society shows how important they were in building the world as we see it.

6 Replies to “Summary of Carlson’s “The Romans,” by Chris Selby”

  1. Chris,

    This blog summary is a fantastic representation of the Carlson article! I believe you hit almost every major point while providing some background or reasoning for why the Romans developed and advanced the way(s) they did. However, it feels like you skipped over portion of their culture including clothing and the Roman Baths. Wealthy Romans were synonymous with their decorated togas/stolas, and wealthier citizens excessively decorated their clothing as a display of power. Additionally, the Roman Baths were significant in their integration of underfloor heating, as it enabled finite control and even temperature distribution across the entire building (regardless of rooms).
    Your analysis of the Roman’s military developments and styles were spot on! Part of the reason we still discuss their legacy today is due to their success and developments during their “militaristic phase.”

    Great job!

  2. Chris,

    Great job summarizing Carlson’s article. Thank you for including specific examples about technologies still used today that can be traced back to the Romans. Did this article help you connect technologies of the past to technologies of our current time?


  3. Chris,
    Your summary fully encompasses Carlson’s points. Rome as a civilization was great at adapting and using the technology and culture of other civilizations. The Romans did gain much of the aspects of their religion from the Greeks, along with technologies such as ships and military tactics. As Carlson discusses, the Romans were able to expand their empire because of their military technologies and road systems. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans used their technologies for practical purposes, such as building arches to make longer bridges and aqueducts or metallurgy to improve tools and weapons.

  4. Hey Chris!

    I like all the detail and military mentions about the Romans. I also liked how you incorporated how Roman technology is applied today. This comment assumes that technology can live on past its original date and evolve to fit the means of today’s world.

  5. Nice summary! My favorite part about your summary is how you split up and talked about each of the Roman technology and gave reasons as to why the Romans improved the technology or how well made and advanced it was. I also liked how you told us how much ancient Roman technology still impacts us today, for example the roads, they were made a long time ago yet they are still being “used” (the foundation of the roads) today.

    If you want to learn more about ancient Rome engineering you can click on the link below and watch. This video gives you a very good look at their engineering, while also still telling you about the history. (1 hour and 33 minutes long)

    If you want to learn more about the roads that were built click on the link below. (42 minutes long)

  6. Chris,

    This is a good and easy to follow summary of the Carlson article. I like that you incorporated that many Roman technologies are in use today. I personally feel that these ancient technologies seem more impressive to readers when they can be related to modern technologies. I wish there was more detail on the bow technologies, but overall, good work!

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