Did the Romans Know About America?

The Romans had a vast and expansive empire that is still lauded as one of the most impressive of all time. They conquered Greece and even made their way into Asia, but did they ever make it to America?

There’s no definitive evidence to suggest that the Romans knew about America. Several strange and seemingly unexplained things hint at the Romans’ discovery of the continents. Still, most historians agree they never made it that far. 

This article will explore some of the finds discovered over the years that make people question whether or not Romans ever made it to America, even though recorded history insists that they didn’t. It will also posit theories as to why the Romans never came to the Americas.

Also see Did the Romans Steal the Greek Gods? to learn more.

America map
Did the Romans discover South America? See below

Did the Romans Discover North America?

Romans didn’t discover North America. Oddities and unexplained archeological finds exist throughout North America, but no reputable sources have validated their authenticity. Additionally, even if the findings are real, it doesn’t mean Romans traveled to America, only that their artifacts did.

Here are some of the findings that lead some people to believe that Romans may have reached North America before its “official” discovery: 

  • The finds from an Oak Island shipwreck in Nova Scotia include a Roman sculpture, a Roman sword, a partial Roman shield, and a legionnaire’s whistle. [1]
  • Roman coins were found throughout North America, including Native American burial grounds, Alabama, Maine, Illinois, Texas, and other places. [2]
  • A man in Georgia, Manfred Metcalf, found a stone inscribed with Roman-style writings. 
  • A Roman fresco in Pompeii includes pictures of squash and pineapples, both native to the Americas.
  • A Roman-style ship was found in the Galveston Bay near Texas. [3]

At first, this all seems like a lot of evidence that the Romans might have visited North America. Unfortunately, scholars have proven that many of these “discoveries” — particularly the coins — were hoaxes and plants. 

Of the other “proof” that supposedly exists, people can only read about them on non-reputable websites that discuss “cover-ups” and conspiracy theories. Historians and scientists agree that there’s not enough evidence to prove that Romans ever landed in North America. 

Also see Did Romans Keep Records of Crucifixions? to learn more.

South America map
Why the Romans didn’t make it to America? See below

Did the Romans Discover South America?

As with North America, the Romans didn’t discover and almost certainly never visited South America. Though there are supposed “findings” that lend credence to the idea that they did, these findings are unsubstantiated.

Just as there are strange, out-of-place findings that some claim proves the Romans reached South America, no scholars or historians have authenticated the finds. 

Here are some of the reasons people believe the Romans might have visited South America: 

  • There have also been many Roman coins “discovered” in various parts of South America.
  • The Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head was discovered near Mexico City. It was a terracotta head made in the Roman style. [4]
  • Archeologists have also found what they think is Roman pottery in various parts of Mexico.
  • Someone found a doll with Roman inscriptions in the Well of Sacrifice in Chichén Itzá, Mexico.
  • Various Roman inscriptions exist throughout South America.

Like the supposed findings mentioned above, most of these things have never been authenticated and only exist now in the realms of conspiracy theorists and unreliable internet sources. 

The Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head is the only one with any real legitimacy, but other scholars have put forth many different explanations for the head’s existence in Mexico. 

As far as provable history is concerned, the Romans never made it to either North or South America, though that doesn’t make their vast expansion any less impressive. 

Also see Did the Romans Have Coffee? to learn more.

Roman Coliseum

Why the Romans Didn’t Make It to America?

There are a few reasons that may explain why the Romans never made it to America. The first is that they just didn’t know it existed. Although scholars hotly contest the story of Christopher Columbus discovering America now, he still gets credit for it, and that didn’t happen until 1492, long after the Roman empire had fallen. [5]

Even if the Vikings discovered it first, it still would have been centuries later. 

If the Romans knew about America, another theory about why they didn’t come here was because it was too far away. The ancient Roman civilization, while advanced, didn’t have the technology to make luxury cruise ships, helicopters, and airplanes. 

When they wanted to travel, they did it in two primary ways: marching and via boat. Marching to America wasn’t possible, but they also likely didn’t have boats advanced enough to make the trip to America.

Roman warships were highly advanced for the time, but the distance from Rome to America would have been about 7,220 km (4,486.6 miles). They couldn’t make that journey. [6]

Another theory as to why Romans never came to America is that they didn’t think doing so would be advantageous. It was much too far away to govern effectively from Rome — as evidenced by the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution — and they had all the trading ports they needed in closer locations. 

One of humanity’s most significant reasons for traveling to other lands is trade; they need things they don’t have and want to go outside their homelands to get them. There was nothing that they could get from America that they couldn’t get in India, Europe, and other locations. 

Also see Did the Romans Invent the Steam Engine? to learn more.

How Far Did the Romans Explore Around the World?

The Romans explored a substantial part of the world, especially for the period in which they lived. They expanded their empire to include Greece, most of western Europe, parts of the Middle East, northern Africa, and the Balkans. They even made their way to parts of Asia. 

At its peak, the Roman empire completely surrounded the Mediterranean Sea.

The Romans started small by invading the city of Veii, an Etruscan town that was only about ten miles (16.09 km) away, but at that point, they were only getting started. [7] They continued to invade and overthrow other areas in Italy until they had complete control of the country. 

Rome then set its sights on countries and empires overseas. They attacked and conquered Carthage, then moved onto Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. They took over Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Spain, Corsica, England, France, Sicily, Sardinia, Jerusalem, and more. 

It must have seemed like nothing could stop the all-powerful Roman empire at that time in history. But even the greatest empires can fall, and eventually, Rome did. 


The Romans probably didn’t know about or visit North or South America, but they did spread their empire across multiple continents during their powerful reign.

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