The Roman architecture is utilitarian, practical, because the Romans are
pragmatic in spirit. Most of the Roman buildings are for civil use, not
Romans invented materials and construction techniques that allow them to
build multi-storey buildings – concrete, brick and the arch. Ceramic is the
most durable material in the world. Indoor plumbing, hypocaust heating.
Roman engineers no longer depend on the landscape, they can alter it to their
ROMAN ARCHITECTURAL REVOLUTION
also known as the Concrete Revolution was the
widespread use in Roman architecture of the
previously little-used architectural forms of
the arch, vault, and dome.
Aqueducts – using arcades to deliver water to cities from mountain sources.
Bridges – permanent crossings of rivers.
Roads – for army use and trade.
Amphitheaters – for mass entertainment, not culture or arts. They have 2
parts – Theatron for spectators and Arena for performance. No religious
Baths – community centers with attached library, gym, swimming pool, spa
and conference rooms
The Forum – center of public life and trade. The largest is the Forum of
Trajan. Rectangular shaped with public buildings around it. Second forum
build by Constantine I in Constantinople.
The Triumphal Arch – built by Emperors as a symbol of Victory in war. Oldest is
the Arch if Titus. Last is the Arch of Constantine the Great. They have
inscription about the event – primary source. Usually built near the Forum.
The obelisk – precedes the arch, same meaning
The Roman house – accommodates the extended family.
Comfort and durability.
Well decorated – mosaics, wall paintings.
The Roman villa – a cottage in the country or by the sea,
eventually some of them developed into country estates.
The Roman Temples
Roman temples were built close to the forum. Religion was a very
public function in Rome. Temples accommodate several gods. Emperor
Hadrian built the temple of all gods – Pantheon. Romans often built
round temples accessible trough only one door. Some have internal
atrium. Greek columns were borrowed, but the orders were mixed;
often only decorative.
Christian basilicas were build in the 4th and 5th centuries – have the
shape of a cross.
ORIGINS & EVOLUTION
Roman architects continued to follow the guidelines established by the classical
orders the Greeks had first shaped: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The Corinthian
was particularly favoured and many Roman buildings, even into Late Antiquity,
would have a particularly Greek look to them.
The Romans did, however, add their own ideas and their version of the Corinthian
capital became much more decorative, as did the cornice - see, for example, the
Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome (203 CE).
The Romans also created the composite capital which mixed the volute of the
Ionic order with the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian. The Tuscan column was
another adaptation of a traditional idea which was a form of Doric column but
with a smaller capital, more slender shaft without flutes, and a moulded base. The
Tuscan column (as it came to be known in the Renaissance period) was especially
used in domestic architecture such as peristyles and verandahs.
The Romans also favoured monolithic columns rather than the Greek approach of
using several drums stacked on top of each other.
Three Important Elements of Successful
Ancient Roman Architecture has endured for about
2,000 years because the Romans perfected the use
of the three elements:
One of the Rome’s most important contribution to the world of
architecture was the development of the arch.
The Romans were the first to use the form of the arch to create
monuments that commemorated victories of war.
One of the Rome’s most important contribution to the world of
architecture was the development of the arch. It consists of the two
supports, called piers, each topped by a platform called an impost.
Angled blocks of brick or stone, called voussoirs [voo-swars’], are placed
on the imposts in an arched, curved pattern that is capped by the central
block of the arch called the keystone.
A row of arch is called arcade. Arches allowed the Romans to create
wider, taller, and lighter structures. They also learned that if they built
arches entirely the walls of their building would become even stronger.
A vault is a ceiling of brick, stone, or concrete built in the principle of the
Are extended arches and then Romans used them to create large open rooms
and high covered passageways.
Concrete was probably the greatest Roman contribution to Architecture.
Roman concrete, also called opus caementicium, was made with a special
Roman mortar or cement, called caementa, created by mixing water, lime,
and a special volcanic ash sand, called pozzolana, that gave the Roman
caementa its special strength.
It was a material used in construction during the late Roman Republic through
the whole history of the Roman Empire.
Roman concrete was based on a hydraulic-setting cement. Recently, it has
been found that it materially differs in several ways to modern Portland
It is widely acknowledged that roman concrete is the most durable type of
cement of its kind due to its use of volcanic ash.
Types of Concrete
The four main types included: (1) Opus quadratum concrete, a type of
ordinary stone walling that was used to face important public buildings.
(2) Opus incertum concrete, the most popular facing for ordinary concrete
walls, prior to the Imperial era.
(3)Opus reticulatum concrete, similar to opus incertum but with pyramid-
(4) Opus Testaceum concrete, a type of brick/tile-facing which became the
most widespread form across the empire.
(5) Opus Mixtum concrete, a combined brick/stone facing, popular with later
empire architects during the Diocletian period.
Building Techniques: Arch, Vault, Dome
In Architecture, however, the romans absorbed some important techniques from
the Etruscans before Greek influence was decisely felt. This included the arch and
the vault, which were destined to carry Roman Engineering into a development
directly away from that of Ancient Greece, who preferred “post and lintel” building
methods to arches and domes
The vaulting technique used by the romans were the simple geometric forms: the
semicircular barrel vault, the groin vault, and the segmental vault. The vault
surfaces were typically covered with stucco or tiles. An excellent example of Roman
vaulting is the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius in Rome.
The mastery by Roman Architects and Engineers of the Arch, vault and dome
further enhanced by their “development of concrete”.
Rome produced very little distinctive creative art.
The Romans cut off rather than absorbed the one significant
development on Italian soil, the Etruscan, and turned to import
decadent Greek sculptors, decorators, and painters to give a
Hellenistic surfacing to their culture. In the aesthetic scales the
contribution of mighty Rome weighs more lightly than that of tiny
states such as Sumeria and Siena.
Hellenic moderation and reasonableness became Roman practically
and Roman swagger.
Banks of columns crowned by the rich Corinthian capitals; on every
side a profusion of vulgarized Greek ornament, interspersed with the
new panels of Roman relief sculpture: in all, a wonderful display of
grandeur and exhibitionism.
Influence of Ancient Greece
The most obvious Hellenistic gift was the series of Greek Orders of architecture -
Doric, Ionic and Corinthian - from which the Romans developed two
more: Tuscan and Composite (variants of the Greek Doric and Corinthian styles,
respectively). In general, Roman Doric, Ionic and Corinthian Orders were slenderer
and more ornamented. Columns tended to be left unfluted, but the fascia of the
entablature, left plain by Greek architects, was heavily decorated.
An obelisk (UK: /ˈɒbəlɪsk/; US: /ˈɑːbəlɪsk/,
from Ancient Greek: ὀβελίσκος obeliskos; diminutive of ὀβελός obelos, "spit, nail, pointed
pillar") is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape
or pyramidion at the top. These were originally called "tekhenu" by the builders, the
Ancient Egyptians. The Greeks who saw them used the Greek 'obeliskos' to describe them,
and this word passed into Latin and then English.Ancient obelisks were
often monolithic (that is, built with a single stone), whereas most modern obelisks are
made of several stones and can have interior spaces.
The Ancient Romans were strongly influenced by the obelisk form, to the extent that there
are now more than twice as many obelisks standing in Rome as remain in Egypt. All fell
after the Roman period except for the Vatican obelisk and were re-erected in different
The largest standing and tallest Egyptian obelisk is the Lateran Obelisk in the square in
front of the Lateran Basilica in Rome at 105.6 feet (32.2 m) tall and a weight of 455 tons.
VASTNESS & MAGNIFICENCE
OSTENTATION & ORNATENESS
The Colosseum (also spelled “Coliseum”)
Measuring some 620 by 513 feet (190 by 155 meters), the Colosseum was the
largest amphitheater in the Roman world. Unlike many earlier amphitheaters, which
had been dug into hillsides to provide adequate support.
The Colosseum was a freestanding structure made of stone and concrete. The
distinctive exterior had three stories of arched entrances–a total of around 80–
supported by semi-circular columns. Each story contained columns of a different
order (or style):
At the bottom were columns of the relatively simple Doric order, followed by Ionic
and topped by the ornate Corinthian order.
Located just near the main entrance to the Colosseum was the Arch of Constantine,
built in A.D. 315 in honor of Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at Pons Milvius.
Rabirius was an ancient Roman architect who lived during the 1st and 2nd
Century AD. His designs included the massive Flavian Palace, situated on
the Palatine Hill at Rome, and the Alban Villa at present-day Castel
Gandolfo, both erected on a commission by his patron, emperor Domitian.
It has been suggested that Rabirius designed the extant Arch of Titus, a
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC), commonly known
as Vitruvius, was a Roman author, architect, civil engineer and military
engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled De
By his own description Vitruvius served as an artilleryman, the third class of arms in
the military offices. He probably served as a senior officer of artillery in charge
of doctores ballistarum (artillery experts) and libratores who actually operated the
Apollodorus of Damascus (Greek: Ἀπολλόδωρος) was
a Greek engineer, architect, designer and sculptor from Damascus, Roma
Syria who flourished during the 2nd century AD.
Apollodorus was a favourite of Trajan, for whom he constructed Trajan's
Bridge over the Danube, for the 105-106 campaign in Dacia.
He also designed the Forum Trajanum and Trajan's Column within the city of Rome,
beside several smaller projects. Apollodorus also designed the triumphal arches of
Trajan at Beneventum and Ancona. He is widely credited as the architect of the
third iteration of the Pantheon, and cited as the builder of the Alconétar
Bridge in Spain. In 106 he also completed or restored the odeon begun in
the Campus Martius under Domitian.
The Pantheon (from Greek, meaning “of all gods”)
Is considered as the crowning achievement of Roman Architecture and it is the best
preserved building dating from ancient Roman times.
It is famous for it’s round design and dome.
The whole building is based on the circle.
The porch has a rectangular shape and is topped by a triangle-shaped roof gable
called a pediment.
It is roofed with a hemispherical vaulted roof that also contains a 30-foot diameter
circular-shaped opening at it’s top called the oculus.
based on stylistic evidence, Apollodorus of Damascus, Trajan's architect, was the
obvious architect of this structure.
Above the entrance, carved in stone, are the words M. AGRIPPA L. F. COS. TERTIUM FECIT which is
translated, "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, in his third consulate, made it." This basically says that
"Agrippa built the Pantheon." However, as with many parts of the Pantheon, this is somewhat
paradoxical, because, in fact Agrippa did not make it!
The building we see today as the Pantheon is not actually the original building by that name. The
first incarnation of the Pantheon was built by Agrippa, the son-in-law of the Roman Emperor
Augustus, about 25 B.C. The first building was a traditional rectangular Roman temple made of
travertine (limestone rock). Although it was on the same site, it was oriented in a different
As with many ancient cities, Rome suffered the tragedy of large fires in 60, 64, 79, 100 and 110 A.D.
The first Pantheon was severely damaged during a fire and was rebuilt by Domitian. That building
was destroyed in another fire, supposedly caused by a lightning strike. The Emperor Hadrian built
the temple we know today as the Pantheon during the period 118 to 128 A.D. There was a tradition
in Rome to rebuild temples like the previous one. Apparently in this case, the only thing to survive
in the new temple was the inscription over the portico, which probably gave the new building an
important social and political connection to the past.
Hyginus Gromaticus (Gromaticus from groma, a surveying device) was a Latin writer
on land-surveying, who flourished in the reign of Trajan (AD 98–117). Fragments of
a work on legal boundaries attributed to him will be found in C. F.
Lachmann, Gromatici Veteres, i (1848) and in Carl Olof Thulin, Corpus
agrimensorum Romanorum, I Opuscula agrimensorum veterum, Leipzig 1913. The
'surname' Gromaticus was falsely attributed to Hyginus: There is only one reading
in the manuscripts (Arcerianus A 161) which ascribes the work to a KYGYNVS
GROMATICVS. The other mss. give the work the title LIBER HYGINI GROMATICVS,
so undoubtedly the book was called Liber gromaticus.
A treatise on Roman military camps (De Munitionibus Castrorum), was formerly
attributed to him, but is probably of later date, about the 3rd century AD (ed. W.
Gemoll, 1879; A. von Domaszewski, 1887) and is now attributed to "Pseudo-
Hermodorus of Salamis
Hermodorus of Salamis was an ancient Greek architect
from Salamis, Cyprus who was highly active in Rome between
146 BC and 102 BC, where his work includes the Temple of
Jupiter Stator (2nd century BC) and Temple of Mars. He also
inspired Vitruvius and led the construction of the Navalia.
Cyrus was a Greek architect who lived in Rome in the times of Cicero. He died the
year 53 BC, the same day Publius Clodius Pulcher was killed. It is known that he
may have never married or had children even though some resources point that
his great-grandchildren were friends of Quintus Mucius Scaevola. He worked as
an architect for Cicero, who mentions him as the author of outstanding works
in Ad familiares 7.14, Ad Atticum2.3, Ad Quintum 2.21 and Pro Milone 17.