Basic Roman Architecture
Roman architecture, sculpture and
literature were strongly influenced by Greek models. However, the Roman
buildings were large and ornate compared to buildings of about the same time.
The Roman builders were able to use concrete unlike the Greeks who set the
basis of architecture for many civilizations. Another great advantage for
the Romans was the use of the semi-circular arches to form vaults and domes,
also making normal buildings with archs much stronger. The great Pantheon shows many examples of these.
Roman builders could not use marble all the time,
because it was expensive and there was a limited amount. However there
was a plentiful supply of terracotta, stone, and brick. Early in Roman
development they invented concrete. It was made by mixing pazzolana, a
strong volcanic material with rubble and a mixture of limes. The concrete
was used to make walls, domes, vaulted rooves of solid concrete, concrete
with brick ribs and faced structure with marble, or mosaic. Tools such as
a plumb bob, a bronze square, bronze dividers, bronze foot rule and chisels
were used in building.(Coolmine)
Roads were very important to the Roman Empire and they had a great ability
to build roads. They were the first to build roads on the foundation basis.
The roads were paved and they had ditches on either side so water could
run off. There are roads still standing which were built by the Romans. They
were wide enough to take a Roman chariot with two horses. There were laybys
to let other chariots past. Roads were used often and we know this because
of the grooves left by the chariots. Communication was good in the Roman
Empire due to the roads so architectural ideas spread fast.(Coolmine)
One of the main uses of the arch was to build aqueducts which carried
water from the hills to big tanks or cisterns in the cities. They contained
pipes lined with cement, on the top of the arches, which carried the water.
The pipes were covered to stop the water evaporating and to prevent contamination
in the water. Smaller architectural works included euphoric arches, pillars
of victory, and fountains. Arches and pillars were built to recognize the
great achievements of emperors and generals.
In Rome there were the Arches of Titus, (built to celebrate the capture
of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Emperor Titus) the Arches of Constantine,
Septimus Severus, at Ancona the Arch of Trajan and many more. They were
usually decorated with sculptured pictures or scenes. Columns of Carinthiann
or composite style were built as part of the arch. The most famous pillar
of victory in Rome is Trajan's Column. This is a Roman Doric style pillar,
155 feet high.
The Romans built hundreds of fountains in their cities, which were public
and private. The fountains were made because the Romans loved running water,
the cool spray, and also they were built in memory of events and distinguished
people. Many fountains were devoted to certain gods, just like altars. In
a typical town in the Roman Empire, the wealthy people lived in large houses
while the ordinary Romans lived in blocks of flats called insulas.
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