What Was an Innovation of the Romans?

The Romans invented concrete, paved highways, Roman arches, newspapers, welfare and aqueducts, among dozens of other innovations. While many of these inventions are now obsolete, they contributed immensely to advances in technology.

Perhaps the single most important Roman innovation was concrete. A lime and volcanic ash mixture was blended with volcanic rock of different weights to create a durable concrete resistant to chemical decay. Architects developed several building techniques using concrete, including mortared stone construction and earthquake-proofing designs. Roman concrete was used in most major Roman projects including the Pantheon, the Forum and the Colosseum, which all stand today. It was also one of the major ingredients in the tough Roman highways, the ruins of which still exist, and in sealing aqueducts.

Roman wealth also enabled a number of social developments. Newspapers, such as the Acta Diurna, were hand-produced by government clerks and posted on walls for the citizenry to read news about politics, military victories, crime, executions, trials and scandals. Some newspapers were written on parchment, but many more were carved on stone or metal tablets, then posted or sent by messenger to Roman officials throughout the empire. The Romans also invented a form of welfare, the famous "bread and circuses." Starting in 58 B.C., grain was distributed for free to Roman citizens, shifting to bread in later times, and at public games, free admission and concessions were provided to citizens at amphitheaters.