When Octavian became the first Roman emperor, Augustus, in 27BC, Roman influence already extended over much of Europe. Under his leadership the power of Rome continued to expand and the city became the centre of a vast empire – a bustling vibrant city with a population of around one million citizens. Roman innovations in construction, agriculture, industry and warfare transformed the lives of millions more, from Syria to Spain and from the Nile to the Rhine. But Roman influence was not solely temporal. Nothing that happened within the Roman Empire was of greater consequence than when around AD30 it sent Jesus on the road to Calvary bearing a simple wooden cross.