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Ancient Greek And Roman Architecture Essay

1240 words - 5 pages

Roman Architecture

Roman architecture implemented many characteristics of Ancient Greek architecture. The Romans showed the influence of their engineering skills and secular monuments, while Greek architecture exhibited the influence of their gods and ideas of physical perfection. The use of arches, the dome and concrete permitted the ancient Romans to attain extraordinary achievements in the construction of imposing structures for public use. While showing the magnificence of the Greeks and their practical application, as well as their creativity, the Romans established architectural features that remain to this day.

As the Roman population grew larger, the buildings they used for meetings and markets had to expand. This presented a problem with the Greek use of columns. The Greeks used the "post and lintel" system for designing a building. It is simply the idea of standing two columns vertically and placing a beam across them; a simple and easy assembly, yet not a durable one. Since the building needed to be so large to accommodate the large crowds, it called for more columns to hold it up. This made the Romans turn to engineers, and thus the arch was created. The use of arches enabled the weight of the structure to be evenly spread out, as well as pushing the weight down toward the ground. This prevented many structures, like the Colosseum, from disintegrating under its mass. The arches supported so much weight; architects could take away columns that, before, were crucial.

The Colosseum is an enormous oval amphitheater in the center of Rome, making it literally and symbolically the heart of Rome. It was commissioned by the emperor Vespasian and constructed of concrete and stone. It could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. The Colosseum was used for a variety of public events, such as gladiatorial contests, mock sea battles, animal hunts, re-enactments of famous battles, mythological dramas, executions, and other public spectacles. The arena itself had a wooden floor covered by sand, which covered the hypogeum. The hypogeum was a series of tunnels and cages which held animals, props, and people during events. There were 80 arches that acted like doorways, allowing for many people to enter and exit quickly and at once. Where you sat in the arena depended on your social class. The most important Romans, the emperor, priests, and senators sat closest to the action in the podium. Above the podium sat the nobles and knights. Above that sat the Roman citizens, then the rest of the population, including the poor, foreigners, and slaves. Women, however, were expected to sit at the very top of the arena. The ceilings of corridors of the Colosseum were made of concrete arches, while the supports were made of heavy limestone. The arches made the ceilings stronger and added strength, without additional weight to the building. Without arches and concrete, the Colosseum couldn’t have been constructed.

The invention of arches changed...

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