A civilization that began on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BCE. During its 12 centuries of existence Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to a classical republic and then to an increasingly autocratic empire. Through conquest and assimilation it came to dominate Southern and Western Europe, Asia Minor, North Africa, and parts of Northern and Eastern Europe. Ancient Roman society has contributed to modern government, law, politics, engineering, art, literature, and society. It achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and roads, as well as large monuments, palaces, and public facilities.