This is what ancient Rome looked like
Despite the best effort of artists, historians, and filmmakers, we will never really know what ancient Rome looked like – not really. The best we can hope for is a group of really geeky historians with a 3D rendering program and a lot of time on their hands.
And in a funny coincidence…
A group of historians calling itself Rome Reborn decided to engage in an academic research project to create a full 3D model of Rome. The group decided to focus on the city during its height, somewhere around 320AD, when it was at “the peak of Rome’s urban development.”
The results are seen in the video below showing Rome at its best in 320. Ten years later, the emperor Constantine moved the capital to Constantinople, more or less officially beginning the decline of Rome. The empire would last for another century and a half, but Rome was never again quite as significant as before the split.
As noted by Vox, at the time Rome had around 2 million. That would make it the fourth largest city in America today (not counting the suburbs). That’s fairly staggering when you consider that the city reached it height roughly 17 centuries ago.
The video also goes into detail on how Rome received its water from the mountains. The famed Roman aqueducts were a marvel of the ancient world, and remain an engineering feat. The video also shows several districts of the city, as well as the Colosseum.
The only thing missing is the touch of urban life that infects all cities. It’s kind of like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when the peasants immediately recognize King Arthur as a king because he’s not covered in shit. No city is as clean as the one in the video depicted.
In reality, the city of Rome was covered in markings and graffiti, with vendors and traffic everywhere. Walls were used as billboards, and the roads were a mixture of rock and mud. It was beautiful, but also somewhat worn in, as most cities are/were.
That’s a minor complaint though. Check out what ancient Rome looked like (more or less) in the clip below.