Transportation in Ancient Rome: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kristin Pia Hayman

Kristin taught for over 10 years in the elementary classroom. She holds a B.A. in Journalism as well as a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.

Transportation in Ancient Rome was different from today's world. They didn't have cars or airplanes, but they developed an impressive transportation system with highways, horse-drawn chariots, and boats. This lesson will focus on some of the transportation advances made in Ancient Rome.

Roman Roads

Who wants to go on a road trip? Well, if you lived in Ancient Rome, it wasn't that hard to do! One of the most impactful accomplishments of the Ancient Romans is their construction of roads. As the empire expanded its power, roads were needed to effectively transport trade goods, soldiers, and materials. The Romans built an impressive highway system with tens of thousands of miles of roads throughout the empire.

Ancient Technology

Bridges were erected over rivers, and drainage ditches were built. These ditches were put alongside the roads to keep them from flooding, which would have stopped travel. Due to the sturdy design and use of concrete, some of these roads have survived more than a thousand years!

Drainage ditches like this one were built to keep roads from flooding.

The Chariot

Saddle up your horses! When you picture the people of Ancient Rome moving from place to place, you may picture them riding in a horse-drawn chariot. A chariot is a two-wheeled cart pulled by horses. You would ride in these standing up. This was the most common and preferred form of transportation because of how quickly chariots could travel. The Romans loved chariots so much that they even raced these carts as a sporting event!

A Roman Chariot

Other Forms of Travel

Aside from chariots and walking (the most common forms of transportation), Romans had other ways of getting around. Large carriages were pulled by animals and could hold several people. The problem? Iron wheels made so much noise that they were actually banned from entering city centers during the day. These carriages were also heavy and slow, so they were more like buses of today, whereas chariots were more like racecars!

If you were wealthy, you might be carried around on a litter. This was like a bed that was carried short distances by slaves, so the wealthy didn't have to walk. Imagine that!

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