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Trajan, Roman emperor (AD 98-117): the victor

Trajan, the first non-Italian emperor, was born in Italica near Seville, in Spain. He was descended from Roman colonists who had gone to Italica over two centuries before. Trajan's rise underlined the changing nature of the empire and the increasingly important role played by the provinces. A very capable general, he fought in the Rhine and, after becoming emperor, led Rome's armies to victory in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and Dacia (modern Romania).

It was for victory in Dacia that he was particularly remembered: he used booty to pay for a massive building programme in the centre of Rome. The Forum and markets of Trajan combined law courts, libraries, markets and residential property in one huge complex. Two important elements, the multi-storey covered shopping arcade and Trajan's column, covered with carvings of the Dacian wars, can still be seen.

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Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99

Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99