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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > April 2016 > How Did They do That?

How Did They do That?

Cramped, dirty, falling down and poorly equipped – but home for many Romans
ILLUSTRATION: SOL 90, ALAMY X2

THE ROMAN INSULA

As its influence in the known world spread, Rome transformed from a small settlement – legendarily founded by two brothers, Romulus and Remus – into a thriving metropolis.

The domus, unlike insulae, were built all over the Roman Empire – these ruins are in Catalonia

With this success, however, came a population on the rise and a housing problem. The solution was a novel one: the insulae, the forerunner of modern apartment buildings. Each insula consisted of around half a dozen living spaces for Rome’s middle class and poorer citizens, the plebs, as well as shops and businesses on the ground floor.

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The April 2016 issue of History Revealed.