This video is part of a series of 6 animated maps.

View series: Rome and its Empire

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The City of Rome in its early years

This map is part of a series of 6 animated maps showing the history of Rome and its Empire.

Rome was built on the Tiber River about 25 km from the sea at the first river crossing.

The site contained seven hills: Capitoline, Palatine, Viminal, Quirinal, Esquiline, Caelian and Aventine.

There are traces of two shepherds’ villages on the Palatine Hill dating back to the 8th century BC.

Archaeologists have found the foundations of huts, which provide clues about the first habitations: either round or oval. They had wattle and daub walls, a wide door opening onto a room, and a thatched roof held up by a central pillar. These villages appeared to have traded in salt along the Tiber valley towards the Roman hinterland.

At the end of the 7th century BC, the Etruscan dynasty of the Tarquin took control of Rome. The new city began to establish commercial, political and religious institutions. The valleys that led down to the Tiber were covered with houses, and various public works were constructed:

The first sewer, Cloaca Maxima, was dug. At first, it was simply a ditch for draining a marshy area. It became the site of the Forum Romanum at the centre of the city, lying at the crossroads of the Via Sacra, running from east to west and the Argiletum, running from north to south, with its extension towards the Aventine Hill.

To the east of the Forum, there were two monuments, also dating from the 7th century BC: the Regia, the official residence of the kings, and the Temple of Vesta which was shaped like the ancient huts.

The earliest bridge across the Tiber was the Pons Sublicius, downstream from the Tiber Island. It was made of wood and could quickly be dismounted in the event of attack from the river’s right bank.

Near the river, the Forum Boarium was the livestock market.

On the Capitol Hill there was a temple dedicated to a trio of divinities, Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.  

Later, the Seven Hills of Rome were encircled by a series of ramparts, known as the Servian Wall.