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Biblical Archaeology Review 48:3, Fall 2022

High Tech Romans

“What have the Romans ever done for us?” A question famously asked (and answered) in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. As BAR readers well know, the answer is actually quite a lot. A new exhibit, titled High Tech Romans, aims to showcase the resourcefulness and originality of the Romans, as well as the lasting impact of their technologies up to the modern day.

All across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, the remains of great Roman-era building projects are visible testaments to the technologies that emerged and proliferated under Roman influence and rule. For example, a theater in Caesarea Maritima—first constructed by Herod the Great in the first century B.C.E—is still used for shows in Israel today. Likewise, a first-century Roman-era aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, still carries water into the city, and elements of the ancient sewer in Rome, the Cloaca Maxima—originally constructed in the sixth century B.C.E. and renovated in the third century B.C.E.—has remained in continuous use (see “Then and Now: Sanitation and Sewers”).

Roman innovations, such as underfloor heating, concrete, road networks, and advanced water systems, continue to amaze and inspire. While some of these technologies, such as concrete, were lost for centuries, others remained functional and in use after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Landesmuseum exhibit allows visitors not only to learn about Roman inventions but also to try them out for themselves with several hands-on activities, making it an exceptional experience for young and old alike.

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