The Roman Empire is what is remembered today. During this time, the Romans conquered a massive area and united it under one rule. Women gained a relatively large amount of freedom, and poor people were even less represented. The Romans were not tolerant of other religions, but Christianity's appeal to the large class of poor led to its rise as a major underground religion. Eventually, Christians would no longer be persecuted, and then Christianity would be made the official religion of the empire, The Romans would pick and choose what to adopt from those they conquered, and most of the Roman culture was originally from somewhere else. They became known for their incredibly organized military and expansive, effective infrastructure. Eventually, trade along the Silk Road would bring disease into the empire, which caused population decline. This population decline led to a smaller military, and Rome split; the western half was taken by the Germanic tribes, but the eastern half would become the Byzantine Empire and would thrive for hundreds more years.