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40 maps that explain The Roman Empire

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Italy before Roman conquest

In its early years, the Romans shared Italy with several other peoples. The dominant power in the neighborhood of Rome was the Etruscans. We don't know very much about these people, in part because we haven't figured out how to read their distinctive language. But the evidence suggests that Rome was ruled by Etruscan kings until the Romans revolted and established a republic — an event that is traditionally dated to 509 BC. East of Rome were other tribes speaking languages related to the Romans' native Latin. And by 400 BC, the prosperous and technologically sophisticated Greeks had established colonies at Italy's southern tip.


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