Roman Expansion through the 1st century C.E.

If the Persian Empire of the ancient world seemed impressive, it would prove no comparison to the Roman Empire, which emerged from the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (which ended in 404 B.C.E.). Greece after that war never truly recovered, and its instability left it vulnerable to attack. The Macedonians invaded from the north, and the combined Macedonian and Greek armies, led by Alexander the Great, would invade Persia and eventually occupy vast territories in Egypt and India. Many Greek citizens fled the ruin in their own country to these new territories. When Alexander died in 323 B.C.E., the Roman Empire was engaged in a series of wars for control that centered around Rome itself and the Italian peninsula (as depicted on this map), and its expansion would grow into an empire with massive territory, including land in North Africa, modern Europe, and the Middle East. This map indicates main provincial capitals, which includes Rome, of course, but notice others spread across the map—Londinium (modern London), Alexandria (in Egypt), and Ancyra (or Ankara in modern Turkey). A territory of this size enabled cross-cultural exchange among many different societies. A good indication of how goods, people, and ideas were moving at this time is provided by the trade routes and major roads marked on the map, many extending beyond the borders of the empire itself.