[gn_heading style=”2″]More Fun with Geography[/gn_heading]
Following Dr. Armstrong’s lecture on the physical and linguistic geography of the Roman Principate in the Age of Augustus, I wanted to point you to some helpful web resources, which will complement and elaborate on what you saw and heard in class.
- One thing you undoubtedly noticed was the sheer size of the Roman world. The distances which diplomats, soldiers, and merchants needed to travel to bring their wares, arms, and messages from one end of the Empire to Rome were astronomical by ancient standards. But the Romans were nothing if not engineers and civic planners. Their development of road systems facilitated trade, warfare, and diplomacy and allowed them to effectively administer a territory which would otherwise be impossible. To better understand how travel played a factor in the Roman world, play with ORBIS. (Just click on the map and start planning your travels across the Empire!) Fun fact: the fastest travel time from Rome to Jerusalem was 21 days; the slowest was upwards of 130!
- Dr. Armstrong introduced us to the magnificent and, perhaps, bewildering sacred space of the city of Rome. It is a maze of temples, forums, palaces, theaters and homes. Watch this brief video from Rome Reborn 2.2. It depicts Rome in 320CE, but the vast majority of what you see is representative of Rome in the era we’re examining.
- You can also watch this video, a virtual tour through Herod’s Jerusalem, focusing on the Temple. Note the sheer dominance of the one Temple, as opposed to the array of temples on the Capitoline and other hills of Rome.
We have gotten a lot of information already, and there is much more to come. It is important to have this bird’s-eye-view, though. Although Judaea was part of the Roman Empire, it stood physically and linguistically at the frontiers of the East—bordering the vast Arabian desert and the Parthian Empire, not a Roman administrative center nor a military post, but a crossroads of Aramaic, Greek, and Latin, of peoples who identified themselves as Greek, Roman, Jewish, and others.
Spending time just playing with the physical space of Rome, Jerusalem, and the Mediterranean, will help you to appreciate just how distinctive the Judaean thought-world is from the Roman.