During classical antiquity the settlements of the Roman Empire, while having many of the same elements were hardly considered homogenous. Spanning a geographic distance from the isles of modern day Great Britain into Eastern Europe, along the shores of the Mediterranean including Africa, the Levant and into Mesopotamia the Romans conquered many cultures and established one of the largest empires in history.
This led them to possess a wide and diverse array of settlements in foreign and exotic territories that had been previously inhabited by other tribes and cultures for centuries. While power was initially centralized in the capital of Rome on the Italian Peninsula the various settlements and provinces conquered by the Roman Empire over time served many various political, economic and social functions.
The major settlements, monuments and structures were all connected by a major network of roads and bridges along with maritime sea routes which helped enable cultural diffusion and trade networks during the Hellenistic Period and the Pax Romana Period which led to great prosperity. While many cities urbanized and became influential during this time, other settlements in far flung provinces simply served as minor ports, trading posts or military fortifications for the Romans and have only recently been uncovered.
One of the most important settlements in the Roman Empire is the capital city of Rome itself. While there would eventually grow to be two capitals, the other at Byzantium, later Constantinople the settlement of Rome is memorable and captivates public fascination given its sacking and the tragedy of the collapse of the western half of the empire. The settlement itself was purportedly established in 753 BC by the mythical Romulus and Remus on the the Seven Hills and grew to encompass many different monuments, structures and temples along with residential housing and luxurious villas including the Roman Forum and many aqueducts, bridges and roads.
In time Rome would grow to be one of the most densely populated urban cities in the Old World and the seat of political power for the Roman Republic and early Empire until the western collapse. In order to maintain this high population amble supply of food and resources was essential, thus one of the main reasons for the expansion of the Roman Republic into the Empire was born.
List of Settlements
An important Roman settlement on mainland Italy is the slightly minor port of Neapolis which existed on shores of Naples. This port was an important center for the trade network and had a minor regional economy of agriculture based on cabbage farming.
The harbor eventually became filled in with silt over time and the settlement was abandoned. Neapolis is unique because it was unearthed during the construction of a subway in a highly densely population of Italy and there is not often adequate chances to perform archaeological work in presently occupied major metropolitan cities that were built atop much more ancient settlements.
Pompeii is one of the most unique archaeological sites because it was buried almost instantly in the explosion of Mount Vesuvius in the first century AD. This helped preserve many structures, artifacts and much more evidence about the daily life of Romans during this period of time. Pompeii gives great insight into Roman technology through pristine bathhouses such as the Stabian Bathhouses and the Thermal Baths and art as well through well preserved murals, pottery, sculpture and more.
Another major feature of Pompeii is how Roman daily life is revealed including how they prepared their food and much of the private life of citizens inside their homes given the area was untouched. Many different well intact villas from the early Roman Empire period remain including the Villa of the Mysteries, the House of Vetti and the House of the Baker.