Depth Study 2c: Physical Features of Rome

Depth Study 2c: Physical Features of Rome

The physical features of the ancient society and how they influenced the civilisation that developed there:

  • describe the geographical setting and natural features of the ancient society
  • explain how the geographical setting and natural features influenced the development of the society

Chronology and Geographical Setting

According to legend, the city of Rome was founded by one of the sons of Rhea Silvia, Romulus, in 753 BC.  Originally built on the banks of the River Tiber, Rome was encircled by seven hills – Aventine, Palatine, Capitoline, Caelian, Esquiline, Quirinal and Viminal. The river made the land around the settlement very fertile, gave the early residents clean water to drink and access to the Mediterranean, while the surrounding hills provided a natural defence for the city.  After Rome’s mythical beginning, it was ruled by seven kings – a period which lasted from 753 BC until 509 BC – when the monarchy was overthrown and the Republic was established.The Republican period is traditionally dated between 509 until 31 BC, with the accession of the first emperor, Augustus. With Augustus came a period known as the principate or the Roman Empire, which lasted from 31 BC until 476 AD (with the fall of Rome).  Below is more information on the timeline and geographical landscape of Rome, including videos, websites and interactive maps.

Chronology of Ancient Rome

  • Ancient Rome: Timeline. Includes a simple timeline on the major dates in Roman history.
  • Know the Romans: Roman Empire Timeline and Map. A short video that shows the expansion and then regression of Rome throughout its long history.
  • Roman Timeline provides more information on specific periods when the links are clicked.
  • Milwaukee Public Museums’ site on the Roman Empire Timeline. This site provides more information on the main period of the Roman Empire, including the regal period, the Republic and the Empire.

Geographical Setting of Rome

  • Geography and Maps Ancient Rome on the Mr Donn site ( This page gives a brief overview of the geography of Rome and its surrounds with more links on the page that discuss how the geographical setting helped Rome rise to power.
  • Instructomania's YouTube documentary on The Geography of Ancient Rome. This is a nine-minute video on the geography of Rome and Italy (caricature) as well as information on who lived there.
  • World Atlas, The Geography of Rome. This site talks about the geography and its impact on Roman expansion as well as the climate of the ancient city, the Tiber River and the origin of the civilization.
  • National Geographic Classroom Resource, Physical Geography and Power in Ancient Rome. This is a 50-minute worksheet activity with the following description: "Students use a physical map of the Roman Empire to investigate how physical geography contributed to economic and military power in ancient Rome." It would also be useful to test your students on the geographical features of Italy and Rome.


Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Wikimedia Commons

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