Roman Architecture

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Roman Architecture

In Rome, marble was the most widespread building material and eventually the stone of choice for the most extraordinary state funded building projects. Travertine white limestone was a popular substitute for marble due to its strength and ability to be precisely carved. It was normally used for paving, door and window frames, and steps. Although Romans did not fabricate lime mortar, they were the first to recognize the numerous possibilities of using it to create concrete. Soon, Roman architects realized that concrete could withstand great weight, and a whole new range of architectural opportunites was revealed. One of the best examples of concrete's construction opportunities can be observed in the Sanctuary of Fortuna. Stucco was utilized to face brick walls and could be carved to create architectural decorations, which could only previously be done using stone. Volcanic tufa and pumice were used in domes because of their lightweight qualities. Finally, terracotta was for molded embellishment, and became a common ornament on private homes and tombs.


In the ancient world, Roman architecture played a key role in the success of the empire. Instead of following in Greece's footsteps and striving for simple elegance in architecture, the Romans emphasized grandeur. Enormous palaces, temples, and stadiums towered over the empire, marking Rome's power and dignity.

The Romans enhanced existing structural devices, such as columns and arches. Using concrete as a building material, they created the dome as a roof for large spaces. The most renowned domed structure is the Pantheon, a temple that honors the various Roman gods. This structure still stands in Rome today.

The Romans were highly advanced in engineering, applying science and mathematics to develop useful structures and machines. Engineers built roads, bridges, and harbours throughout the entire empire, most of which were so soundly constructed that they were used long after the fall of Rome. One of the most influential engineering feats was the establishment of aqueducts, or bridgelike structures that carried water from the hills into the cities of Roman cities. The wealthy had water piped into their homes, and almost every city possessed public baths. People flocked here to not only bath themselves, but also to receive the latest news and engage in the current gossip.

Roman Architecture




ArchesThe purpose of the arch during ancient times was limited to supporting small structures. That was until the Romans created an arch, using concrete, that could support huge amounts of weight. This allowed Roman architects to explore many different and larger structures, like the following. Vaults Vaults are extended arches. Roman architects used them to create large, opened rooms and high, covered passageways. Domes Domes are hemispherical structures that evolved from the arch that usually form a ceiling or roof. The Romans were the first to create a monumental example of this structure.


Roman columns were used in structural engineering to provide a vertical element that transmit, through compression, the weight of the structures above to other structures below. Columns were a main element in Roman architecture. There are three main types of Roman columns - Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. (Shown in the image to the left)

Row 1: DoricRow 2: Ionic Row 3: Corinthian


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