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The history of innovation in Rome: from the Romans to Maker Faire Rome 2023

History of innovation Rome

Inheritance of innovation that continues to inspire the future

Maker Faire Rome 2023 is the product of a treasured legacy inherited from the past: the ability to innovate.


Since ancient times, Rome has always been a stage for historical, social, technological and cultural changes of major global impact. Inventions as old as its monuments have revolutionized our way of life in Western society, forever altering the course of history and leaving an indelible imprint still evident today. Innovation has played a crucial role for Rome over time, contributing significantly to its growth, stability, and enduring political influence. 

From ancient Rome to today, the iconic and innovative nature of this city has never changed. In this article, we will understand how the beginnings of Roman innovation are only the precursor to the progress we are experiencing today and will experience more and more in the coming years also thanks to events like Maker Faire Rome.

Roman urban, agricultural, and hydraulic innovations

The Romans were capable of designing and building monuments, infrastructure, fortifications, aqueducts and roads that survived the test of time and periods of destruction over the centuries. Throughout history, they devised default, working models that they exported wherever they wanted. They were masters in the art of planning and managing their cities, their hydraulic systems and agricultural lands, demonstrating remarkable mastery in building, engineering, hydraulics and agricultural techniques.

Roman urban models were known for their geometric organization. This not only allowed for the efficient distribution of people and resources, but also included advanced infrastructure, such as sewage systems and aqueducts, which contributed to the health and well-being of the city. 

« […] What the Romans thought about was what the Greeks had neglected: paving the streets, channeling water, building sewers that could drain all the city’s waste into the Tiber. They flattened the streets that ran through all the [conquered] territories, cutting hills and filling in hollows, so that chariots could collect the wares from the boats; sewers covered with vaults made of uniform blocks, sometimes giving way to paths where wagons carrying hay could pass. So much water was then carried by the aqueducts that entire rivers flowed through the city and underground conduits, so that every house had abundant cisterns and fountains, thanks largely to the incredible work and diligence of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who also beautified Rome with many other buildings. In addition, the cities are distinguished by the presence of amphitheaters and baths.»

(Strabone, Geografia, V, 3,8.)

In the field of hydraulic engineering, the Romans built an intricate network of aqueducts, bridges, and canals to provide drinking water for their cities and to irrigate the surrounding farmland. These systems were often characterized by monumental architecture and remarkable technical skill in managing water flow with inclines. The innovative use of Roman concrete, known as “opus caementicium,” permitted the construction of durable structures that could survive the test of time. 

In agriculture, the Romans developed advanced techniques to maximize the yields of farmland. They used irrigation and drainage systems to manage soil moisture and introduced new practices such as crop rotation and the use of organic fertilizers, contributing to increased agricultural production. Ultimately, these models are a testament to their ingenuity and ability to create complex systems to meet common everyday needs.

The construction of “machines” started in ancient times

In ancient Rome, the ability to build machines was a hallmark of civilization and a symbol of cultural prestige. Latin authors, between the end of the Republic and the imperial age, emphasized the importance of this expertise, which separated those who possessed it from those who didn’t. Julius Caesar, for example, chose to build a bridge over the Rhine instead of relying on temporary boats, thus demonstrating the technological and cultural superiority of the Romans. This bridge not only had a practical function but was also a symbol of Roman order and the Romanization of new territories. In contrast, Tacitus reported clumsy attempts at construction from Barbarians, distinguishing the Romans from their adversaries. In late antiquity, an anonymous author proposed machines as a defense against Barbarian threats, while Emperor Julian the Apostate had impressive war machines built to protect his territory. We can therefore say that machines were a tool that solidified Rome’s established order in the world. It was Cicero himself who praised the Roman man for his pragmatism and great ability to use it to establish a beneficial relationship with nature. An interesting passage from De Rerum Natura (2, 150-152) reads: 

We enjoy the advantages of the plains and mountains, ours are the rivers and lakes […] we give fertility to the earth by irrigating it, we hold the rivers in their beds, we direct and divert their course, with our hands we try to create almost a second nature in nature.” 

This skill in the art of mechanical construction helped to maintain order but also to create new ways of interacting with reality and the world around us.

Non solo, a Maker Faire Rome 2023 puoi scoprire Roma antica all’interno


Innovation today with Maker Faire Rome 2023

This habit of designing solutions by thinking big, creating visionary inventions with one’s own hands, and experimenting with avant-garde technologies has never faded here in Rome. Over time, the historical and cultural legacy has been transformed into renewed momentum for development and progress. The city today has once again become a nerve center for the development of innovative solutions: the scene of research and discovery, of thriving academies and the birth of new business ideas.

Maker Faire Rome, which is now in its 11th edition, is a symbol of this drive locally that the Rome Chamber of Commerce has pushed for. The institution has been promoting this event, a symbol of innovative Roman pragmatism, ever since the first edition.

Makers are filling the pavilions of this year’s festival: innovators, technology enthusiasts, educators, thinkers, inventors, engineers, authors, artists, students, artisans including digital and university researchers. They are professionals who create and amaze with the innovative power of their ideas, individuals, companies and start-ups that draw new solutions to problems by observing reality to improve people’s lives and make society more sustainable. This fosters an exchange of ideas that this year will also be promoted by MFR Networking, a platform that will allow companies and makers to meet, the supply and demand in innovation.

But there is room for everyone. This year will be an even bigger edition with newer exhibits. It will be hosted by Fiera di Roma, a perfect location for a steadily growing event like this one.

Participating in Maker Faire Rome 2023 means getting to meet the innovators of today in all fields: digital manufacturing, Internet of Things, circular economy, agritech, robotics, artificial intelligence via big data, aerospace and the latest in metaverse and augmented reality. Also not to be missed this year is the EdTech area, which has a packed schedule of educational activities, interactive workshops and enlightening talks.


Visit #MFR2023 to see how innovation is continuing to transform Rome today. For more information, visit the website www.makerfairerome.eu. Tickets available only online.


Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition has been committed since its very first editions to make innovation accessible and usable to all, with the aim of not leaving anyone behind. Its blog is always updated and full of opportunities and inspiration for makers, makers, startups, SMEs and all the curious ones who wish to enrich their knowledge and expand their business, in Italy and abroad.

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