Top 10 Most Important Roman Inventions

The Roman Empire is considered to be one of the most influential civilizations of all time. They were technologically advanced and with their impressive engineering skills, they created some of the most important and most historically significant inventions that still impact our lives today.
The Top Ten
1 Sewers and Sanitation

With the Romans having access to fresh water in their cities thanks to their Aqueduct system, they eventually developed a sewer system and sanitary management to send their waste out of cities. They connected the Aqueduct to the drainage pipes to flush them regularly with the water running off from streams. The Romans also had a type of public "bathrooms" that ensured that the streets stayed clear of human waste.

2 Concrete

Although the Ancient Romans weren't the first to create concrete, they were first to utilize this material widespread. By 200 BC, the Romans successfully implemented the use of concrete in the majority of their construction which greatly reinforced all of their structures. They used a mixture of volcanic ash, lime, and seawater to form the mix.

Impressive how a material that was invented thousands of years ago still manages to be stronger than most modern buildings today.

3 Surgical Tools

Given that the Romans were often at war, they had to find ways to take care of their soldiers, thus the first surgical tools were born. The Greeks had made progress in this field, but the Romans developed many new surgical tools and techniques themselves These ancient tools influenced many modern-day surgical tools. In addition to using these tools in hospitals or medical centers, they were also used on the battlefield. Some Roman armies employed a trained chirurgus, a field medic in modern day terms, to staunch blood loss, remove arrows, sew up wounds, and administer medicine.

Easily one of the most important inventions from the Romans. This saved many lives.

4 Aqueducts

The Romans did not invent the idea of transporting water as there were primitive canals and other water transportation systems in place before Ancient Roman times. However, they built upon the concept and used their engineering skills to build the Aqueduct. This was a really impactful and impressive development since it brought clean water from nearby streams into towns and cities.

5 Roads and Highways

They say all roads lead to Rome, and the Romans needed those roads to manage such a big empire. They built 55,000 miles throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. This helped them to move supplies, soldiers and communications around their land efficiently which was especially useful in times of war and conquest. Romans also introduced signs and markers on their roads.

6 Julian Calendar

The Julian calendar was the 365 day calendar that Julius Caesar made official in 46 B.C. It replaced a calendar based on lunar cycles that became out of synch with the seasons over time. It remained in use until 1582, when the Gregorian calendar was introduced to correct for the fact that the year is not exactly 365 and ¼ days long. Fun fact, this calendar was named after Julius Caesar and so was the month of July.

7 Roman Numerals

The numbers in the system are represented by combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet: I, V, X, L, C, D, and M. These are used to represent the numbers 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1000. Every number can be decomposed in order to express it as a Roman numeral. In the 14th century Roman numerals were replaced by Arabic numerals which are much more useful for arithmetic and counting. Examples of the use of Roman numerals today include the denotation of book chapters and the marking of hours on clock faces.

Since we use Hindu-Arabic numeral, so it is common. However, we also use roman numerals for some occasions. Both numeric systems gave a lot of influence.

8 Newspapers

Romans were the first to distribute daily news to their citizens. Of course they did not use paper as a means of communication, instead they inscribed news of current affairs (political developments, military updates or details about major scandals or stories) unto stones, papyri, or metal slabs, which were placed in public spaces.

Not sure this quite counts as a newspaper but it's definitely an interesting development.

So the entire Flintstones "stone newspaper" joke was true?

9 The Postal System

The first postal and courier service was developed by Emperor Augustus in around 20 B.C. This was necessary as the size of the Roman Empire made it increasingly difficult to communicate and inform. Named the cursus publicus, it is a system by which messages and notices could be transferred between provinces with the help of horses and vehicles such as the horse cart called rhedæ. The average speed of a mounted messenger with the help of the Roman road system was about 50 mi per day (80 km).

10 Bound Books

Bound books, also called "Codex", is a collection of papyrus pages which made carrying documents much easier. Before this, Romans would inscribe information onto clay slabs and scrolls. The first bound book was commissioned by Julius Caesar who is credited with this invention. It was safer, more manageable, had a built in protective cover, could be numbered, and allowed for a table of contents and index. Imagine having a pile of clay slabs in your office, not exactly practical.

The Contenders
11 Corvus

The Corvus was also known for turning the sea battles into land battles, done by anchoring Carthaginian ships whenever they were close to each other where infantry would battle enemies in the platform. This significantly helped the Romans win the First Punic War against the Carthaginians

The corvus was a Roman naval boarding device used in sea battles. This was a movable bridge with a metal prong that could be dropped onto the deck of a Carthaginian ship.

12 Hypocaust System

A hypocaust is a system of central heating in a building that produces and circulates hot air below the floor of a room, and may also warm the walls with a series of pipes through which the hot air passes. The Romans would use this system in pretty much any building, especially houses and bathhouses.

13 Welfare

Historians say that the earliest form of welfare can be found in ancient Rome. For example, Emperor Augustus provided the grain dole each month for those who could not afford food. It would take a few decades before they expended upon this concept.

14 Control Valves

Since the Romans created aqueducts, they evidently needed a way to control the flow of water and so the Romans are credited with creating the control valve.

15 Vending Machine

The earliest known reference to a vending machine is in the work of Hero of Alexandria, an engineer and mathematician in first-century Roman Egypt. His machine was placed inside of temples and it accepted a coin and then dispensed holy water. When the coin was deposited, it fell upon a pan attached to a lever.

16 Apartments

The insulae, often consisting of six to eight apartment blocks built around a staircase and central courtyard, housed poor workers who couldn't afford a traditional house. Landlords would rent out the very bottom spots to shops, much like modern apartment buildings. This makes Rome the first urban, apartment-based society.

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