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This is Steven Saylor's fictional account of how Roma (Rome) went from a campsite for local traders to the assassination of Julius Caesar and the beginnings of the Empire. Each episode in this history is based on actual archaeological finds, but told as a story in both its own as well as actual historical context. Like his Gordianus the Finder series, you spend a brief time immersed in the Rome of each period and get a flavor of what it must have been like to live during these times.