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Ancient Roman Architecture

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    The ancient Romans are famous for many things. One thing is their adaptation and development of architecture. From the Etruscans and early tribes the Romans found most of their basic architectural skills. From the Greeks some components of Roman architecture were adapted. Which gives some early Roman architecture some characteristics of oriental architecture because of Greek contact with the Orient. The heart of Roman architecture was the Roman forum, which was really being constructed under the rule of Octavian (Augustus) Caesar. As time progressed the Roman architecture went into a stage of Greek like buildings. After this Roman architecture as we know it today was starting to take form.

    Etruscan architecture was really the beginning of Roman architecture. For example in Etruscan tombs people would find many types of architectural traits found in many Roman buildings. Like the fact they had vaulted entrances. Some cities had an influence, such as the fortified city of Norba. After this Greece started to gain control in Italy that greatly affected the Roman architecture of this time but not as much as Etruscan does in the future. When the Greeks came in Rome was building their new buildings in the classic Greek vaulted construction with Doric style columns. The start of this was in 179 B.C., it started with the planing of the Temple to Fortuna Virilis. This was completed in approximately 100 B.C. Then shortly after the completion of the Tabularium built in the time of Sulla. In this period under the dictator Sulla, Hellenistic architecture flourished in Rome, with the buildings Lindos, Cos, the acropolis at Pergamon, Fortuna at Praeneste, the sanctuary of Hercules Victor at Tibur, and the temple of Jupiter Anxur at Terracina. Though all these buildings were noticeably Hellenistic, they retained the Roman’s own unique architectural style. Such as the cylindrical shape of Forum Boarium, this was an original shape for the Romans along with the roof. Eventually the Hellenistic architecture was being pushed out by Romanization. When Rome gained leadership over Neighboring countries and was starting to unite the cities, in about 300 B.C. Rome started to gain it’s own unique architectural culture. When Rome was expanding they build grids of roads, and with this advance Rome had a much greater ability to build massive projects. Such as Octavian (Augustus) Caesar’s Forum, aqueducts, temples, jetties, safe ports, bridges, marsh drainage and the first truly planned cities. These cities were truly planned to certain specifications and were built and optimized for certain purposes. After the Hellenistic period was nearing an end in Rome Octavian (Augustus) Caesar took control of Rome and started to start some major development programs. A tribute to the god of Mars called the Ultor for the death of Octavian (Augustus) Caesar’s father who was assassinated, was the first That later became the Forum of Augustus was to have the Ultor, an Other temple dedicated to Julius Caesar called the Cella, and a courtyard. The Forum of Augustus was built across from Julius Caesar’s Forum on a piece of land that measured one hectare. The Forum of Augustus was designed in a symmetrical style. Other achievements of Augustus were to build one of the earliest aqueducts at Minturnae was one of the first construction projects to use arcs. This structure was made completely of stones with a reticulated bond. Most would figure Caesar would have a great home because he was very absorbed in to architectural projects. On the Contrary Caesar’s home was a simple, it was almost small compared with other emperors homes. It’s only features that were appealing were the location and the wall paintings. Of course when he became emperor it was enlarged but not by much. Under Caesar’s reign as emperor Agrippa built the first Pantheon in Caesar’s honor. The Pantheon as we know it, was a replacement of Caesar’s built century and a half later by Hadrian.

    Aqueducts were one of Rome’s new devices described as “indispensable in urban life.”(Stierlin 48) The aqueducts were one of Rome’s many revolutionary devices. In these science, architecture and art were combined to bring the cities the water they need to survive. Another revolution is the Roman network of roads. The Romans were the first civilization to make well-designed roads. Around the time of Augustus the major roads were constructed to keep the incredibly large empire linked so it would not fall. The Romans added a number of things to the basic idea of roads, such as archways, city streets, and arch bridges. This greatly increased the ability to build because of the way roads were laid out.

    One of the most famous Roman projects is the Flavian Amphitheater in Rome. Commonly known as the Colosseum this massive stadium had seating for about 50,000 people, a feat that is amazing considering the tools used for construction. Construction started in 69 AD by Vespasian, and was finished in 80 AD when his son Titus inaugurated it. On the outside the building was made of travertine, “a creamy colored carbonate material.” (Michael Raczynski)On the inside it was made of tufa, and the ramping were made of concrete. The quality and advanced designs were easily viewed as superior because it has lasted so many years, through earthquakes and wars.

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