Roman Londinium

The city of London, that was ones the greatest city in the world, has lost its might and fame to New York but maintained its cultural heritage to date. The city has a long history of endless upheavals, immigrations and invasions like the Big Bang, the Great Fire, and the Blitz. Different features of Londons structures and developments exhibit its past. Some of the medieval architecture, including the Saxon traps, the Norman churches, and the Roman wall, are still being maintained and restored to promote the culture.

The birth of London can be traced back to Roman second invasion in 43AD. There is very little information documented about London before the establishment of the Roman regime in the city. Apart from the Iron Burial in the London tower, there is limited evidence to indicate the existence of people in London before the rise of Julius Caesar in 54 BC. Life in the city was signified by footprints along the Thames River that were scattered along the marshy sands, but there was no evidence of their survival.

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In 47AD, the Claudian troops, who had attacked Kent, where they built their empire, discovered the potential of the land and decided to utilize it to the maximum. They build a bridge across the Thames River, which was narrow but deep, allowing ships to sale and enabling the troops to conquer territories of the further north. The river allowed transportation of goods from the coast, making the region a commerce centre. The river also acted as a border protection to the Roman soldiers. For the next decade, the Londinium area was developed, and additional roads were constructed to link the port with the whole territory of Britain. This infrastructural development led to increased population of people, who immigrated in search of opportunities

In the Museum of London, there are significant pieces of evidence that exhibit the history of the Londinium. The Museum is known for its more than ten million pieces of urban historical artefacts. Different objects and jewellery represent various timeframes of British history from the prehistorical periods to the Roman invasion, Saxon, and medieval period. The government preserves geographical maps of the Thames Valley, the art of the Old St Paul’s and the White Tower in William’s period. An audiovisual presentation describes the events of the 1666 Great Fire and the World War II Blitz.

Visitors of the museums learn about London Children from Punch and Judy shows and Second World War galleries with gas masks, which were made to protect children. Other evidence of the Roman invasion includes the skulls of the Roman soldiers and information about the Great Plague and dismembered criminals displayed on the Great Stone Gates spikes. There is also a large reserve of Roman Samian art and metallic creations, as well as the Marble sculptures found in the Temple of Mithras. Since 2002, the Docklands Museum specializes in telling the story about Thames River and the port workers in the region.

The peace and prosperity of Londinium were short lived. In 60AD, the Iceni tribe queen, Boudicca, decided to start a revolution against the Roman rule. The revolutionary woman chose the city as a perfect target to launch her revolt due to its strategic position. According to Tacitus, it was a perfect timing for the Celtic queen to attack Londinium, since the soldiers were absent. This event led to a massacre of approximately eighty thousand Romans. Boudicca and her revolutionary troop burnt down the whole forty acres city leaving behind a layer of red ash that during excavations served as evidence of the Great Fire of London.

However, the Romans spent a very short time to recover from the damage, and immediately took precautionary measures. To protect the city, which had a strategic position, they rebuilt it and constructed the Cripplegate fortress located in the north-western region of the city. In the late 3rd century, the Romans erected a defence wall around Londinium. The wall, which enclosed an area of 330 acres, was completed in parts. It was eight feet thick and fifteen feet high, thus making London the largest Roman Empire in the northern Alps and biggest city of Britain.

Roman occupation of the city was evidenced by the presence of Roman architecture, including forts, temples and houses. Poor population lived in small wooden houses that were also constructed for prisoners and slaves. The roads also exhibited Roman occupation of the city. The roads were straight and built by creating tunnels and filling them with stones thus building embankments. The Roman occupation was also signified by the London wall design that exhibited the Roman building and construction techniques. The streets in Londinium carried Roman names such as Ermine Street that ended in Lincoln.

The city of Londinium was a commercial centre. The city was used as a port, which linked Britain with other parts of the world through river Thames. By 100 A.D., Roman London streets were filled with shops and commercial houses. Commodities such as pots, furniture, and tools were traded to develop the city of London into a modern recreational city full of elegant villas, administrative buildings and shopping centres. In addition, the city had defensive and military purposes. The London wall acted as a defence mechanism that kept the city safe from the rest of the world. In addition to the defence wall, there were forts in the city and each fort had a watchtower. The city was religious as exhibited by the St. Pauls Cathedral and the Temple of Mithras. The region had many functions, but the main characteristic of Roman London was its establishment as a commercial centre. Trade was the main activity that led to the growth and expansion of the city.

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Londinium was the largest city in Britain after Boudicca’s attack. The Cripplegate fortress was located in the north-western side of the city. The building was used for defensive purposes. It had a gate and watchtowers from every corner of the fortress. Moreover, a large basilica was constructed in 70 AD. The courtroom occupied almost two hectares of land and was even bigger than St. Pauls Cathedral. The primary function of the basilica was to house the city administration, law courts, civil centre, the treasury and a town hall. It also had a large open square that acted as a public meeting place. Temple of Mithras was constructed on the East side of the Wallbrook and functioned as the main religious centre of the city. The city also boasted large bathhouses and an amphitheatre for entertainment.

According to Tacitus, archaeological evidence showed that the town did not use only local construction materials. Moreover, a variety of buildings, such as the amphitheater, basilica, temple, villas, and stone quaysides, relied on imported stones. These ancient stone buildings show a variety of rock types, such as sand limestone of the Kentish Ragstone from Maidstone in Kent; flint nodules from the Chalk of the Downs, white Carrera from Italy as well as Egyptian and Greek porphyritic igneous rocks. The interior was decorated with marbles, serpentines, and beautiful volcanic rocks.

The primary evidence of Roman administration was the Imperial Cult Temple. The Provincial Council, which had it headquarters in London until AD 100, administered the worship of the Emperor. In this period, the British provincial administration was reallocated to Londinium from Camulodunum. 2nd-century roofing tiles were identified and labeled by the Publican of the Britain Province at Londinium. Archaeologists also discovered some remains of residents and tombstones of the staff working for the governor.

At the beginning of the Roman rule in the city, significant amount of commodities was imported from different regions of the Roman Empire. These goods included wine and pottery imported from Gaul and Italy, marble from Greece and olive oil shipped from Spain. The exports from Britain rose as the population in Roman London grew with time. Commodities such as copper metal, tin, gold, silver, corn, and oysters were exported to other regions from the Port of London. The local production involved works of local craftsmen, who learned new techniques by making use of stone, bricks, marbles and metals to develop daily use items such as pots, tools, furniture, and equipment, transforming Londinium into a commercial city full of excellent hotels and villas, government structures, trade centre, and warehouses. The local production was only enough for subsistence use but not for export.

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Roman London had grown into a big city that hosted people from different origins. The population was diverse, including Roman citizens, the free non-Romans and a significant number of Britons and people from Gaulish origins. The population also included slaves released by their masters from many parts of the Roman Empire. The natives of the city and the free slaves formed the traders class, craftsmen and shopkeepers. The city had both rich and poor representatives, and both groups lived different lifestyles. The rich lived in the wealthy city streets, while the poor resided in small wooden houses in the suburbs.

Mithraism was a common Roman religion practiced between the 1st and 4th centuries. The religion originated from the Roman Empire, although it was believed to have originated from Persia or India. The place of worship was a Mithraeum and temples, such as the Temple of Mithras located in Wallbrook. Besides, people believed in the Egyptian mother goddess Isis in the first century in Roman London. This religion came from Egyptian soldiers recruited by the Roman military. Besides, some worshiped Mars and Mercury gods, as well as the Celtic gods such as the three mother goddesses. Christianity was not established as a legal religion in the Roman London until A.D.312 when it was officiated.

In conclusion, the residents of London still treasure and use the medieval trading markets and the 1660s wooden framed houses. Many of the most outstanding historical materials of the last hundreds of years are preserved as global common buildings. Archaeologists discovered the remains of the amphitheatre and preserved its history in the Guildhall Art Gallery. These artefacts help to paint an image of a sparkling, distinct and unbelievable city similar to many things one can come across in London today. Several Roman structures were demolished and the materials were used to construct new structures, thus losing them to history. The city is growing, science and technology has changed the dynamics of modern-day London but maintained its cultural heritage.

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