Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew out of a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea, it became one of the largest empires in the ancient world. In its centuries of existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to an increasingly autocratic empire. It came to dominate Western Europe and the Mediterranean region through conquest and assimilation.
The Western Roman Empire went into decline and disappeared in the 5th century AD. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire, including Hispania, Gaul, Britannia and Italy, broke up into independent kingdoms in the 5th century. The eastern part of the empire, governed from Constantinople, comprising Greece, Anatolia, Syria and Egypt, survived this crisis, and despite the loss of Syria and Egypt to the Arab Islamic Empire, revived and would live on for another millennium, until its last remains were finally annexed by the emerging Turkish Ottoman Empire. This eastern, Christian, medieval stage of the Empire is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians.
Roman civilization is often grouped into “classical antiquity” with ancient Greece, a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a major influence on the world today.