Posted: April 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ancient Rome, the center of a great empire, assimilates a mixture of cultures and ideas, principally from the Greek colonists to the south and the Etruscans to the north.

  • Architecture
Roman architecture is a synthesis of forms adopted from its conquered peoples and its own innovations. The temple forms and the arch come from the Etruscans (early inhabitants). The orders, other classical elements, and increased refinement develop from the Greek. Illustrates spatial innovation made possible by Roman engineering abilities, concrete as a building material, arches and vaults, and domes spanning great spaces.

Temples, forums, basilicas, theaters, amphitheaters, circuses, coliseums, baths, gymnasiums, palaces, and aqueducts (water supply system).
Fishbourne Palace

The center of the city is the core of religious, civic, and social life. Housed here are religious, public buildings, markets, and colonnades. The cheif temple is located on one end. early forums feature regular plans, but later are irregular as each emperor adds a monument to himself.
Forum of Caesar

Range from small and individual to large complexes and create a vista or focal point by being set on a longitudinal axis. Usually in the forum, but may be scattered throughout the city and countryside. Also pay homage to a particular god.
Temple of Vesta

Used for religious, legal, and meeting purposes, feature large central rectangular spaces with lower side aisles, clerestory windows, and usually and apse on the end.
Basilica of Trajan
Public Baths

Early baths are modest, but during the late Republican and early Imperial periods become increasingly monumental and imposing. Used for bathing, exercising, relaxing, and socializing. Maintain axial symmetry and sequential space planning with numerous domed and vaulted, small and large spaces.
Bath of Caracalla
Public Entertainment

Amphitheaters, theaters, circuses or hippodromes for racing, and stadiums. Concrete vaulting makes these large structures possible. Resemble Greek theaters in form, but rise from the ground instead of emerging from a hillside.
Circus Maximus
Site Orientation

A forum, basilica, and market usually define a city center. Colonnades and public buildings form the sides. Most Roman cities are organized on a grid.
Classical Orders
Adopted the classical language of Greek architecture. Often use elements of the post and lintel system to organize exteriors or for articulation or decoration. An example employed from the late Republican times is the arch order, a motif of engaged columns carrying an entablature framing the arch, the arch order on multistory buildings features Doric over Ionic over Corinthian engaged columns.

Like the Greek prototype, but the Romans used them more decoratively.

Use all Greek orders, but with different proportions. They also introduce the Tuscan and Composite orders. The Tuscan column, based on the Greek Doric column, has a smaller capital, a molded base, and no fluted shaft. The composite Column resembles the Corinthian but integrates volute forms with acanthus leaves.
Roman Capitals
Replaces the stylobate, forms the base of the temple, and raises the building several feet from the ground.
Arches, Vaults and Domes
Adopt round arches to span openings and articulate the exterior ordering, often repeating them in sequence, as shown in an aqueduct.
Brick, concrete, marble, travertine, tufa, and granite. Stucco, marble, or stone cover concrete or brick walls. Color comes primarily from building materials.
Exteriors are treated three ways: with structural or engaged columns, arches or engaged columns on piers, or with little to no articulation. Limited articulation is common on structures whose exteriors shapes reflect complex interior planning. Have less Sculpture then Greek, but similarly articulated with a variety of moldings. Deviate from Greek classical repose by introducing concave and convex movement on facades, and broken pediments and entablatures.
Rectangular and arched windows and openings are common on many public buildings, some such as temples have none.
Flat, double pitched, domed or vaulted.
  • Interiors
Largely unknown until the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum, two Greco-Roman cities buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Roman interiors are more lavish and varied then Greek. Interiors and their decoration are important features of many public and domestic buildings. Spaces vary from luxurious to utilitarian in scale and treatment.
Bright and bold enliven dimly lit interiors. Black, gold, rust, Pompeiian red, turquoise, and green.
Torches, candles, and lamps. Lamps are made of bronze, lead, wrought iron, gold, silver, glass, stone, or pottery.
Brick, terra-cotta, mosaics, and marble. Circles and rectangles.
Roman mosaic floor
Emphasize decoration over function. Only public buildings, and grandest rooms in villas, and few domestic spaces feature orders, niches, real and painted columns, pilasters, and moldings to either articulate or order the walls
Barrel and cross vaults are common in public buildings. Likely to be coffered and gilded or painted. Temples and basilicas are flat and beamed or coffered.
  • Furnishings and Decorative Arts
Examples seen in wall paintings, sculpture, tombs, and extant relics. Adapt Greek furniture forms and motifs to suit their taste for luxury.
Thrones, footstools, couches, tables, and storage cabinets. Innovations include the couch with a back, barrel-shaped tub chair, and distinctive table forms
Distinctive Features 
Legs are turned, rectangular, shaped like animal legs, including the quadruped (deer-shaped with hoof)
Decorative Arts 
Glassblowing begins during the 1st century. Numerous bottles, glasses, bowls, and other objects are free and mold-blown. Cameo glass is an innovation. Well equipped with tableware, and other metal, ceramic, and glass objects.
Portland Vase
Roman Table
Acanthus Leaf with rosette
Borghese Vase
Marble Ornament and classical Motifs

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