“Decimation” means “removal of a tenth” in Latin, and refers to a Roman practice in which military commanders punished units for capital offenses by having soldiers execute 1 in 10 of their comrades.
During the Punic Wars, the Romans realized they had no clue how to build ships. They decided to rent row boats, run aground a Carthaginian ship, and plagiarize the designs. The entire first fleet of their new Navy was based off this ship, but learning to row proved more challenging.
Julius Caesar would personally conduct espionage on his enemies. Once, he even dressed up as a Gaul and snuck behind enemy lines. When his soldiers failed to sneak him back, he boarded a Gaul ship blockading the Romans and sailed back into Roman territory without anyone noticing.
Salt was so precious in ancient Rome, it made up a portion of a soldier’s pay, which is where we get the word salary from, (from the Latin for salt, sal).
Ancient Romans recycled their pee. They peed in pots and emptied them in a barrel which they left on the street when filled. A public service would pick it up to turn the pee into ammonia which they used as bleach, mouthwash and more.
Despite ancient Roman bridges being the first large and lasting bridges ever built, many are still used despite being around 2,000 years old.
Ancient Rome had no concept of a limited-liability corporation, so entrepreneurs got around it by appointing a slave as the CEO. A master was not legally liable for a slave’s debts, so this allowed the owner to control the company while avoiding personal liability in case of bankruptcy.
In Ancient Rome, commoners would evacuate whole cities in acts of revolt called “Secessio plebis”, leaving the elite in the city to fend for themselves.
There’s an 1,800 year-old Roman version of present day Swiss Army Knife, complete with folding spoon, fork, spatula, pick, spike and knife. It was made mostly from silver, so it has held up pretty well. The spike might have helped in extracting the meat from snails, and the spatula in poking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles: the pick could have served as a tooth-pick.