On Vox today, Timothy B. Lee posted the most recent “40 Maps” feature, 40 Maps That Explain the Roman Empire. This is becoming a regular feature at Vox following maps posts on the Middle East, World War I and others. Is there a better way to make complex subjects more relatable to a broad audience than a map? Yes… pop culture. So, here is my review of Vox’s maps in 10, I mean 9. gifs from one of the best historical movies.
1. While not all maps, the additional images and charts cover a wide array of topics in Roman History.
2. We hold ancient Rome in such high esteem that it is easy to forget that it was built on a slave economy.
3. The Senate, made up of the aristocracy, was often not sensitive to the socio-economic divides that would eventually lead to uprisings led by slaves like Spartacus and Crixus.
4. Some of the maps were more interesting like #8 about Hannibal’s invasion through the Alps.
5. But others were just more educational.
6. Maps #13-15 help to explain the rise and fall of Julius Caesar.
7. One really interesting map, #28, shows the locations where Roman coins have been found from 1997-2010. It’s amazing how many are still being found very recently and how much of the island they cover.
8. Maps #17-21 give a picture of Pompeii, the impact of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and the more adult side of the city’s baths, Pagan temples and erotic art.
9. And, finally, the last batch of maps, show the evolution of the region after Roman rule and the impact of Roman culture on languages throughout Europe.
Like I’ve always said, history can be fun. If you’d like to not learn more, please see Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part 1. It’s pretty amazing.