Africans In Ancient Rome
The Roman Empire at its height included territorry stretching all the way into North Africa.
It was a vast multi-cultural Military Empire with Trade links and frequent internal migrations that stretched throughout the Empire. As a result of the Roman presence in Africa, there was natural migration of Africans as Roman Subjects to other territories within the Empire.
For instance, excavations conducted in the United Kingdom have established an African presence in Roman Britain from as far back as 300 AD where its clear that people of African origin were part of Society in Roman Britain at different social levels including the Civil Service where they served as Soldiers and Administrators in addition to being amongst the multi-cultural Slave population.
Furthermore, they were prominent Africans who made History in Ancient Rome like the Emperor Septimus Severus who was Rome’s first African Emperor.
Another important person from Africa from the pages of Ancient Rome was Lusius Quietus.
He was a Roman officer from Morocco who rose from Roman Calvary Officer to first becoming a Senator, then thereafter becoming Govenor of Judea.
Many Romans of African descent therefore reached high levels of Government and Society within Ancient Rome.
Race Relations In Ancient Rome
The concept of ‘Race’ as it is understood today did not exist in Ancient Rome.
Skin colour simply did not carry with it the same social and cultural connotations it does today.
Rank, Wealth, Social position, place of origin and education shown by one’s ability to speak Latin were more important to the Ancient Romans.
In the final analysis, Black People were the same as all other Subjects of the Roman Empire that were not Citizens or Slaves.
Skin Colour did not determine status, and in particular, there was no link between Slavery and Race since persons of all Races could be enslaved if they were not a Roman Citizen.
The Roman Empire was essentially an equal opportunity Empire where African people mingled and competed for success along with everyone else.
In the process people of African origin rose to the greatest heights possible within the Roman Empire because the darker colour of their skin did not determine how far they could go in Ancient Rome.
For more on the Roman Empire and Africa, check out the Romans In Africa documentary below.