If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Rome becomes dominant

Continuing our survey of ancient history. End with a dominant Rome and the life of Jesus.

Want to join the conversation?

Video transcript

- [Instructor] Last video, we end with the conquests of Alexander the Great, how he's able to conquer most of the map that we see right up here, especially from Greece all the way through the Middle East through Persia and getting to the borders of India. Conquering Egypt as well. And we mentioned that he had a very short life, and after his death, his empire was split. But coincident with that time we have other powers in other parts of the Mediterranean that are growing. Mainly the Romans, and Rome was established several hundred years before the time of Alexander the Great, but by that time they're starting to conquer more and more of the Italian peninsula right over here, what we would now consider the Italian peninsula. You also have a power in Carthage forming right over here on the north African coast. Carthage was initially a Phoenician settlement. The Phoenicians, famous for our phonetic alphabet. The Phoenicians were based in what is now modern day Lebanon and Syria and they were traders and they settled throughout the Mediterranean. And Carthage and the Carthaginian power or civilization was a fairly significant one at this time. And you could imagine when there are two powers that are close to each other, they might want to be going after the same interests or conquest the same land, or they might view each other as a threat, they tend to start fighting each other. And that is true of Rome and Carthage. And the wars that they fought, they were called the Punic Wars, and they occurred between 264 BCE and 146 BCE. You have the Punic Wars, Punic. And once again, we will do many videos on the Punic Wars, but these are the wars that involved Hannibal famously taking elephants across the Alps in order to attack Rome. And we see it right over here on our little timeline. The Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome. And just to be clear, this little purple shaded in on our timeline, that represents the Carthage and the Carthaginian civilization. I guess you could say power. And this is Rome. But eventually Rome wins decisively and is actually able to wipe out Carthage, literally wipe it out. And so Rome more and more is becoming the dominant power in the Mediterranean, and as you will see shortly, well beyond the Mediterranean. In this period Rome is a republic. And when we talk about a republic, we're talking about some type of representation, although it's not the same form of representation that we would think today. We would be talking some form of preserving rights. Once again, not exactly as what we would do today. But as we get to the middle of the first century BCE, we have a very successful Roman general, you might have heard his name, Julius Caesar, who was able to take power of Rome, who was able to be the dictator of Rome. And in power he starts to end the republic, and he does many other things. He starts rearranging the calendar, gets a month named after him, July, and then he gets assassinated and his adopted son Augustus takes power. And Augustus is often considered to be the first true emperor of Rome, that the republic is now over. And he, too, gets a month named after him, August. Now at around the same time, you have another very significant figure that shows up, and obviously Jesus is a significant figure in religion, but that has effect on history. His teachings are the basis of a religion that's going to have profound consequences for the rest of history, for the world. And even though we might have this, you could say, the secular timeline of BCE, refers to before the common era, or CE, the common era. Right now the year I'm making this video is 2016 CE. Those are secular versions of a calendar which is, essentially, centered on Jesus' birth or pretty close to Jesus' birth. Instead of BC, it would be before Christ. Instead of CE, we say AD, in the year of our Lord in Latin. And Jesus, it's important to note, because sometimes people might learn about the life of Jesus and they might think about the holy land and Nazareth and Jerusalem and whatever else, but it's important to realize that at that time, Jesus was born and raised and grew up and died as part of the Roman Empire. In fact, when he was born, which wasn't actually zero BCE, or zero we should just say, year zero, we now think it was pretty close to 4 BCE or 4 BC. So he was born in the reign of Augustus and he died in the reign of Tiberius. So some of the first Roman emperors. So with that, we have our overview of especially ancient civilization. And in the next few videos, or many vidoes, we will go deeper and drill deep into each of these topics that we referred to, but hopefully the last few videos give you a high-level view of what was happening in the world both in terms of time and space