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Roman Architecture

 

Roman architecture was heavily influenced by Etruscan and 
Italian traditions, however, it was primarily influenced by
Greek Architecture. Eventually when Rome grew politically,
they developed their own style of architectural design.
 
Romans used many different materials to build. The most
popular material used was mud brick strengthened by
timbers. Hard limestone and Volcanic Tufa were used for
terraces, fortifications, foundations and superstructures.
Eventually, Romans began using Travertine because it was
stronger as well as large varieties of marble. For roof
tiles and as protective covering for wooden parts of
buildings they used terra-cotta. The use of this material
declined as stone temples became more abundant in the 3rd
century BC. From the early empire on, baked bricks began to
be made and used in large quantities. In the 2nd century BC
an unusually strong cement, that included a volcanic dust
called pozzuolana, was used more than the traditional
materials. It was a more durable and economical material,
and was used in their buildings, roads, and bridges. An
example is the Pantheon, an architectural masterpiece of
ancient Rome. It was completed in 126 AD during the reign
of Emperor Hadrian who may have helped design it. The
Pantheon is a circular building topped by a dome. A 100
foot long rectangular porch stretches across the front. 
Over the porch is a triangular roof supported by 16
Corinthian columns of granite, each 42 feet high. 

Throughout the republic the temple design basically
remained Etruscan. It was top heavy with wide eaves and
terra-cotta decorations. In the second century BC local
traditions and Greek forms came together to create a more
graceful structure. The podium and deep front porch of the
Etruscan temples were used along with Greek proportions.
This fusion of Greek and Etruscan designs can be seen in
both public and private constructions. An example of this
in a civic building was the Basilica which was a
multipurpose rectangular hall. The Basilica first appeared
in Rome in the 2nd century BC and was usually placed in the
town forum. An example of a domestic building was the
simple Etrusco-Italic town house. It had rooms grouped
axially around a dark central hall (atrium) with a range of
single-column colonnades around a rear garden. Another
example of a domestic building is a country villa. They
were built to serve well to do persons as either working
farms or as retreats for relaxation. Some villas display
symmetry while others are less colonnaded or vaulted. 

Even though the Romans copied some Greek architectural
forms after they conquered Greece, they achieved
architectural greatness in their own rights. Roman builders
knew how to construct huge arches and vaults, and roof
their buildings with semicircular barrel vaults. Brick,
strengthened with concrete was a favorite building material
in ancient Rome. This material gave such durability to
their constructions that many of their creations are still
standing today. 
 

 




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