The Romans ruled the Western world for centuries after conquering another ancient civilisation, the Greeks. Building on innovations and cruder technologies from nearby cultures, the Romans created or greatly improved inventions that people still use today. Many things the Romans built still survive and function as intended. Although the Romans built on technologies of the past, they revolutionised civilisation and quality of life.
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Aqueducts are one of the most recognisable Roman inventions. Since the Roman Empire spanned great distances, the Romans needed to transport potable water to supply their various territories and states. Aqueducts were the first above-ground water transportation system that covered great distances. Aqueducts were made of stone and concrete, and many still stand to this day.
Although concrete was around before the Romans, they developed a fast-drying concrete that could be shaped and laid quickly. They used this quick-drying concrete to lay down advanced roads and road networks unheard of at a time when roads were made of stones and bricks. The concrete roads helped the Roman legions to travel faster in wheeled chariots and carry supplies on carts.
The aqueducts carried water to maintain indoor plumbing similar to modern standards. Homes of the nobility had running water, toilets, and even showers. Apartment blocks, commoner housing, had communal baths and fountains. Much of the Roman Empire had underground sewers for drainage and disease control. Larger homes often had open rooms in the centre, called atria, with rain collection pools.
Although shoes were already common, the Romans developed different shoes for the left and right foot, which were more comfortable for their soldiers. Also, Romans invented socks, called "soccus" to protect the feet so their soldiers could travel farther with less strain. The Romans are also credited with inventing the bikini as we know it.
Along with indoor plumbing, the ancient Romans invented home heating by operating centralised or underground furnaces that were constantly tended by slave labour during winter months. Home heating was limited to the rich who could afford slaves. Commoners and peasants had to heat their homes with fires they stoked themselves.
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