Questions tagged [roman-empire]

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1 answer

Did the ancient Romans know and use the catenary test when building arches and bridges?

I am trying to understand if ancient Romans understood and used the catenary test when building bridges. I cannot find anything online
2 votes
2 answers

Gate 44 at the Colosseum in Rome: XLIIII or XLIV? When and why the change?

We teach our children in school that 4 is written in Roman numerals as IV and not as IIII but at the Colosseum in Rome, gate 44 is identified as XLIIII and not as XLIV. When did the change from IIII ...
0 votes
0 answers

Isn't lībra pondō circumlocutory?

lībra pondō feels pleonastic and tautological. Wikipedia translates lībra pondō as "("the weight measured in libra"), in which the word pondo is the ablative singular of the Latin noun ...
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4 votes
2 answers

Why did the romans use IV and why doesn't it overcomplicate things?

Ok so if the Romans did not use things like IX and IV and XC etcetera then addition and subtraction would be almost as instant as it is in our number system. However with the new system it seems to me ...
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4 votes
1 answer

How could the Roman Empire manage their accounting without a proper number system?

I wonder how the Romans were able to control so vast territories, peoples, armies, ammunition, taxes, etc., without the help of a number system that allowed easy computing (e.g. multiplication and ...
1 vote
0 answers

Did Romans know formulae?

I read a previous question on Roman engineers and I was surprized that nobody referred to the Pantheon: its dome is an unrivalled wonder of architecture. Roads and aqueducts can be built without ...
7 votes
1 answer

Were ancient Romans so bad at computations before Arab numerals?

It is often said that Romans (see below) had a terrible number system, which made computations a mess. I do believe this, but I'm suspicious of the claim that nobody had better ways to do computations ...
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6 votes
2 answers

Where did Ptolemy compare the Earth to the distance of fixed stars?

I read the following in C. S. Lewis, Miracles (page 77-8) The immensity of the universe is not a recent discovery. More than seventeen hundred years ago Ptolemy taught that in relation to the ...
4 votes
3 answers

How was gravity explained in Ancient Greek and Roman times?

Gravity is of course something that we can all observe. Stuff falls towards the ground. But not everything: some things like steam or smoke defy this force and instead float up. During Ancient Greek ...
9 votes
2 answers

How did Romans do multiplications?

The Romans did not have Indian numerals. Worse still, they did not have the decimal system. Yet, they produced amazing works of engineering and architecture. How was that possible? It's troublesome ...
5 votes
1 answer

Beware the Ides of March!

Apropos of the murder of Gaius Julius Caesar, the late V. I. Arnold told the following amusing story in pages 89-90 of his "Yesterday and Long Ago": CAESAR AND GAULS: THE DEFENSE OF ROME FROM THE ...
10 votes
2 answers

Why are there no known Roman mathematicans from the Roman Empire?

I know that Roman Empire built some of the most beautiful things for the epoch and also had an incredible culture (law, poetry, ...). However, my question is: Why there are there no known Roman ...
9 votes
1 answer

What did ancient near eastern protoscience believe about germination?

Two Bible verses seem to indicate that ancients believed germination was the death of a seed, and a resurrection or rebirth of that seed into a plant: Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and ...
28 votes
2 answers

Roman engineers

It is a common opinion that Romans did not contribute anything to exact sciences, but did contribute much to engineering. (How can it be otherwise, anyone who has been on the territory of the former ...
7 votes
1 answer

Was it technologically possible to create electricity, batteries, and electrical devices at the time of the Roman Empire?

I know this question sounds like it should be in the sci-fi site (and maybe it should), but I'm more interested in the state of metallurgy etc at the time of the Roman Empire (let's say around 0 AD) ...
15 votes
2 answers

Was there any exact science or mathematics in the Eastern Roman Empire?

I mean in the Byzantine empire, from the transfer of the capital to Constantinople till its conquest by the Turks, spanning about 12 centuries. Unlike the Western Roman Empire, this one was never ...