Architecture as a product of culture, history, science, technology, economics, society, religion, and state
FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OF ARCHITECTURE AND CITY PLANNING IN THE WESTERN WORLD
A journey through five thousand years of architecture and urban planning in the Western world
© HILA BERLINER
All rights are reserved to Hila Berliner.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, or copied in any form or by any means without the prior permission of Hila Berliner
Each generation writes its autobiography in the buildings it creates.
Friday, December 3, 2010
99 ROMAN ARCHITECTURE
According to Roman tradition, the founding of Rome is associated with the story of Remus and his twin brother Romulus, who were separated from their parents when they were still babies and were raised by a she-wolf. When grown, Romulus killed Remus and founded Rome on April 21, 753 BCE.
It is customary to divide the history of Rome into three periods:
1. Etruscan rule period - the ninth or eighth century
2. Republic period - 509-27 BCE.
3. Imperial period - 27 BCE -393 CE.
began to appear in this area.
In the early third century BCE, Roman law gave full rights and equality to the people. Rome was a democracy, but actually ruled by a hundred wealthy families. There were struggles between the nobles – the patricians, and between the flebs – the masses. The wars between the classes ended with the victory of the nobles in the first century BCE, a victory that paved the way for the appearance of an autocrat - Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE).
Since the beginning of the empire period, (unlike the previous republic) during the rule of Augustus (63 BCE -14 CE, ruled as emperor 27 BCE -14 CE), who inherited power from Julius Caesar, the power was concentrated in the hands of one person - the emperor, whose rule was based on military power.
In 29 BCE began a period of peace that lasted for two hundred years. This period known as the "Roman peace" (Pax Romana), opened the entire Mediterranean area for trade benefiting from the road network and common currency for Europe, which was similar to the Euro currency today.
In 85 CE, began a program to supply free grain to the poor. The government also organized concerts and competitions for the crowds to enjoy. This is why the poet Juvenal (Juvenalis) called the policy of the government in Rome in 130 CE a policy of "bread and circuses" (panem et circences).
Residents of the empire enjoyed freedom of religion. Emperors allowed the construction of various religious worship centers. In the city of Dura Europos, in the periphery of the empire, there was a place not only for the temple of Jupiter, but also for a church, synagogue and ritual structures of the Eastern religions.
Philosopher and statesman Seneca (4 BCE -65 CE) said that the Romans came into the world with a sword in one hand and shovel in the other. They were men of action who valued the Greek culture and adopted it. Roman aristocracy learned from the Greeks to appreciate works of literature and art. Greek statues were brought to Rome to decorate the houses of winning generals. The Romans were interested not only in preserving monuments of the past, but also in encouraging new works of art and culture. Horace (Horatius) (65-8 BCE), the famous Roman poet, wrote that the spirit of captive Greece captured its fierce conqueror.
The Romans engaged just a little with theory, but were capable of learning others' ideas. They adopted the Etruscan's knowledge regarding the construction of arches and drainage. From the Hellenists they have adopted the monumental architecture. It is worth noting that Rome's political control over areas previously controlled by the Hellenists did not stop the construction development. Most architects were Greek in origin, but the engineers having revolutionary architectural ideas were probably mostly Roman.
Just as the practical approach of the Romans contributed greatly to human progress in organization of government and law, it bequeathed to future generations paved roads and a large selection of new types of buildings.
Although their approach was practical, the Romans have not neglected the aesthetics. They perceived it differently than the Greeks and their buildings seem more severe and monumental.
The splendor of imperial Roman architecture was intended to present the Roman rule and power to other nations. Roman culture is characterized by a love of luxury and magnificence combined with a practical spirit. While the Greeks were looking for beauty and proportion based on pure and simple lines, the Romans moved away from pure forms.
The Romans adopted the practices of the Etruscans who built city walls and sewer systems with great talent. Some attribute to them the construction of the real radiant arch "(in which mutual pressure causes the stones to stick together). Actually, the arch and dome had already been built in earlier times - in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Hellenistic period. However, their use was not as deeply rooted as it was in Rome.
For the design of buildings, the Romans used ground plans. Evidence to this can be found in the map of Rome known as Forma Urbis Romae, which covered an entire wall in the main Temple of Peace (Templum Pacis), constructed by Vespasian (79-9 CE, ruled 69-79 CE) after the conquest of Jerusalem in 71 CE.
In the Middle Ages the map that has been etched in marble was destroyed and part of it was reused in construction. In fact, only 15 percent of the map was restored.
Compared with the Greek builders who used post and beam for building, treating horizontal and vertical forces only, the Roman builders, by building the arch, had to cope with a complex set of pressures. Besides the pressure down, there was a pressure to the sides. This very difficult engineering problem requires exact calculations to overcome these pressures
The arches lend a dynamic character to Roman architecture. They convey a sense of movement as opposed to Greek architecture, which, being based on posts and beams, convey a sense of stability.
Indeed, the Romans used luxurious materials to coat structures. The Romans distinguished between the structure, and its coating. By separating the structure from the coating they could get the most out of the materials. They could build the entire building, and postpone the coating until receiving the finishing materials, which were sometimes ordered from distant places. Such an example is the basic structure of the imperial baths, which were built in concrete, entirely constructed before the added decoration.
The Etruscans and Romans added two orders to the Greek (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian) orders - the Tuscan order, and the composite order. The Tuscan order, also mentioned in the book of Vitruvius, is a simplified version of the Doric order. Its shaft's height equals seven times its base's diameter. It has no grooves and its entablature is simple.
For building a wall of stone and concrete the Romans used the following techniques (see also a detailed description in the introduction chapter):
The ancient Romans believed that spiritual forces surrounded all humans. According to their view, the gods controlled all aspects of life and maintained a harmonious balance in the world.
The Etruscan worship of the house gods penetrated the Roman culture. In the atrium (inner courtyard covered in part) of the residence was a small shrine to the ancestors, called lararium.
Before absorbing foreign influences, the original Roman gods were not anthropomorphic, and they were not displayed as statues. The fire goddess Vesta, for example, was the fire itself, since the Romans did not need its human image.
The twelve gods who were particularly honored by the Romans were Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Vesta, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Vulcan and Apollo. Although it is customary to see many parallels between the Roman and Greek gods, these are not the same gods. The Romans adopted the Greek gods, but gave them an entirely different character. The Greek god Ares, the god of violence and massacre, who was cunning, greedy, brutal and evil, was changed by the Romans, who adopted his image and called him Mars. As a Roman god, he was faithful, dignified, noble and good.
The gods were not only objects of worship, but were also presumed responsible for the existence of law and justice in the world. Denial of the gods was perceived as denial of justice. Roman law set the rules of religion; the gods' law was transferred to civilians by the high priest (pontifex maximus), who dictated the rules of public ceremonies.
Influenced by the Etruscans and Greeks, the Romans built temples for the gods and offered sacrifices to them. They believed that offerings would please the gods, and they would benefit them in return.
The Roman temple was built on a high podium, and dominated the space in front of it. The front was emphasized by a great staircase, as was the front of the Etruscan temple. Unlike the Greek temple, to which it was possible to enter from any direction, the access to the Roman temple was from one direction through a staircase. A deep portico in the Roman temple led to a cella (a room in the temple where stood the statue of the god to whom the temple was dedicated) or, in elegant temples, to three sacred rooms, located side by side. The columns of the Roman temple do not surround the structure like in the Greek temple, but some are adjacent to the side walls and the rear exterior wall of the cella. These were fake columns. Thus, the Roman temple was directed to a particular direction, a feature which was foreign to the Greek temple.
Under the Romans, glory replaced the refinements, which characterized the Greek architecture. In Rome, like in the Hellenistic East, luxury in architecture lied in marble. Augustus rebuilt over 80 temples, and coated them with marble. These temples were built in the Hellenistic- order, the Ionic order, and above all, the Corinthian order, which was the most popular order in Rome during the empire.
The best example of a Roman temple from the period of Augustus is Maison Carrée (literally in French: square house), which was built in the Roman city Nemansus in southern France, Nîmes today. This is a small Corinthian temple, built during the years 19-12 BCE to 1-2 CE, on a podium at a height of 3.5 meters. A staircase and portico lead to the only one entrance in the west. Half columns are adjacent to the side walls and the exterior walls of the cella in the rear.
(Thomas Jefferson), the third President of the United - States and a talented architect, said that the Maison Carrée was the most exciting building that he had ever seen.
The Romans had a wider range of temples than the Greeks did. Often they added an apse (semicircular niche) at the end of the temple, and sometimes built a vault to it.
Besides being a holy place, the Roman temple was a political center. Its podium was also the rostrum. The temple of Venus Generix (Venus as the mother of the people of Rome), built mostly between the years 48-46 BCE, was the first temple with a podium in Rome, and perhaps in the entire Roman world. Evidence to the political role of the Roman temple can be found in the fact that the annual meeting of the senate was held in the temple.
The staircase of the temple had two stages: The first, a series of steps leading from the street level of the forum to the surface of the speakers' platform, not reaching the height of the podium of the temple, and second, from the speakers' platform to the pronaos and the cella. A temple of this type usually included a pair of symmetrical staircases in the front of the temple. Such was also the temple of Divus Ivlius (literally in Latin: divine Julius), in the Roman Forum.
The secular character of the Roman temple was also reflected in its relations with its environment. While the Greek temple was isolated, the Roman temple was built in the city. whereas in Greece the temple was a tribute to the god to whom it was devoted, in Rome it served as an urban monument expressing imperial pride.
Round Roman Temples
The Vestal virgins of the temple kept the sacred fire. They were daughters of the nobility, who entered their position as girls, and had to continue the work of priesthood for thirty years. During this period, they were sworn to chastity, and the penalty for violation of their oath was death. However, they also had rights. They were free from the authority of their fathers and enjoyed prosperity.
Each year, during the New Year time, the residents of Rome used to take a fire from the temple in Rome to their homes, not before cleaning them in advance for the occasion.
The temples of Vesta were always round and covered with a dome. The builders of the Pantheon, the most famous round temple, were inspired by the temples of Vesta.
The Pantheon (literally in Greek: all gods), which was built in Rome during the years 118-125 CE, replaced an earlier temple built by Marcus Agrippa in 27 BCE in the honor of Emperor Augustus and dedicated to the gods Venus and Mars. The name of the temple testifies to it being dedicated to all the gods. As a structure dedicated to the gods, which were associated with the planets, the Pantheon symbolizes the cosmos in its shape.
An inscription on the front of the Pantheon reads M. AGRIPPA. L.F. COS. TERTIUM. FECIT meaning: Marcus Agrippa, son of Lusios, in the third consulate built it.
The Pantheon resembles in shape the civil halls of the imperial palaces. As these halls, the Pantheon served as a public gathering hall. Some believe that this fact indicates that originally it was not intended for religious purpose.
The original building of the Pantheon, which became the basis for the new temple built by Hadrian, was a rectangular structure with 16 granite columns. These columns are part of the portico of the new building.
The gable crowning the portico is very high in relation to its width, one and a half times the relative height recommended by Vitruvius in his book. A sculpture of an eagle stands over it.
The structure of the Pantheon is covered with concrete containing lower concentration of rubble as its height increases, to facilitate the support underneath. Stone mixtures in the lower layers were based on heavy basalt, while the following layers were replaced by lighter brick fragments, the upper - by yellow tufa, and finally the top - by porous stone. The layers of concrete placed one on the top of the other became gradually lighter, so that the load created by the top layer was half the load created by the lowest one.
In the center of the dome there is an oculus (a round window), 8.3 meters in diameter. It is built in bricks coated with golden bronze. This is the only light source of the structure, and therefore attracts the eye. Since the Pantheon is a temple dedicated to all the gods, it is expected that the light will naturally penetrate from the sky.
Today the level of pavement to the north of the Pantheon, in front of the portico, is much higher than that which existed in antiquity. Originally, five steps in the width of the portico led from the paved courtyard in front of the temple to the portico's floor. The courtyard, which was surrounded by a colonnade, was as broad as the rotunda (round structure) of the Pantheon and ran all the way to the point where the church of Maddalena stands today.
For centuries, earthquakes caused floods, reuse of materials and damage to the Pantheon, but it was restored again and again. In 663 the Byzantine Emperor Constans II, sent the gilt bronze tiles that coated the dome of the Pantheon to Constantinople. Lead panels replaced these tiles. Pope Urban VIII Barberini (served 1623-1644) melted the bronze ceiling of the portico to build the baldachin (canopy that is supported by pillars and sheltering the altar) of the church of San Pietro and to produce the cannons of Castel St. Angelo (Hadrian's tomb, which became a fortress).
In 609, the Pantheon was converted into a church dedicated to Mary and all the martyrs. Turning it into a church was one of the reasons to its preservation. It is still much more impressive than other ancient buildings that have been preserved intact.
The Pantheon is one of the most influential buildings since antiquity to the present. The structure combining a rotunda with a portico, crowned with a gable, has been copied by many. Maybe its secret is the simplicity of its organization, the purity of proportions and their vividness. The Pantheon's structure is admirable in modern engineering, because no steel rods were used for supporting the structure as is common today.
A site of Roman temples indicating the combination of cultures under Roman occupation is the array of temples of Baalbek, a town at the foot of Mount Lebanon. The construction of these temples (covering an area of 27 000 sq m), lasted about two centuries.
Being located on the two most important trade routes - one connecting the Mediterranean and Syria, and other linking Syria and Israel, the city of Baalbek led the emperor Augustus to found a colony in Baalbek, in 16 BCE, and post the Roman legion there.
The local religion and local gods influenced the Romans, who identified the local Syrian trinity of gods, Baal, his son Aliyan and daughter Atargatis (Assyrian fertility goddess, who was also the Phoenician goddess Anat who was devoted to her lover Aliyan), with the Roman trinity: Jupiter, Mercury and Venus, respectively.
The rituals in Baalbek were held under the open sky . Steps leading to the roofs of the temples testify to altars, which stood on rooftops, as dictated by local tradition.
When Emperor Constantine declared Christianity as the the official religion of the Roman Empire in 330 CE, construction at the site, was suspended and many parts remained unfinished. Since then, the cult of prostitution, which was practiced in the temples was banned.
The Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek is not great (its compound is 286X119 m in area) relative to other temples built in ancient times. Its Construction continued throughout the second century CE. During the reign of Emperor Septimus Severus (193-211 CE) began the construction of the propylaea - an impressive gate at the entrance, which was ended during the reign of Emperor Philip the Arab (244-249 CE).
In front of the propylaea of Jupiter's temple was a paved plaza surrounded by a semi-circular or oval wall where a bench stood. In this plaza bases of statues were discovered.
In the center of the hexagonal courtyard there was a sunken courtyard surrounded by a portico. To the north and south of the inner gate of the propylaea, in the two eastern corners of the courtyard, large halls were situated. Both in the northern and southern walls were designed symmetrically three rectangular porticos and between them two semi-circular colonnades.
Porticos from the east north and south, surround the inner courtyard to which leads the inner gate. Along the western side, there is a staircase leading to the temple.
In the center of the courtyard, there are two altars, one large and one small, one after another along the longitudinal axis of the complex. Apart from these altars, there were two purification pools.
Image- The temples of Baalbek, ground plan
The temple of Jupiter was a Corinthian temple made up of an entrance hall (pronaos) and a main hall (naos). In its front, there were ten smooth columns. Building columns without grooves was influenced by local tradition. The six columns standing there to this day testify to the huge size of the original temple.
The frieze of the temple (middle of the three horizontal bars of the entablature, which is the beam supported by the columns) was decorated with heads of lions and bulls alternating, a motif derived from Hellenistic architecture. The cornice (the upper horizontal bar of the entablature) was adorned with geometric and zoomorphic patterns, creating a wealth of decoration reminiscent of baroque.
This colossal temple was a propaganda tool, by symbolizing powerful Rome and contributing to Syria's self-esteem.
To the south of the temple of Jupiter is located a separate rectangular building probably built during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius, known as the temple of Bacchus (there is no certainty about it being the temple of Bacchus).
The temple of Bacchus is a peripteral temple (83X 36 square meters in area), standing on a platform at a height of five meters. A stairway divided into three groups, each of ten steps separated by horizontal surfaces, leads to the entrance. Above the main entrance are reliefs of vines and poppies indicating that wine and drugs were probably used by the visitors of the temple as a part of the worship.
In the temple of Bacchus, the decorations in the main hall are wealthier than those on the external side, in contrast to Greek and Roman temples, where most of their decorations were found on the outside of the temple. Half columns were attached to the walls and niches were designed between them probably for statues. The entablature over these columns was rich in decoration.
To the southeast of the acropolis in Baalbek is found the temple of Venus whose construction dates to the end of the second century CE and the beginning of the third century, the period of the reign of Emperor Philip the Arabian. The temple apparently appears on his coins.
The temple is circular and built on a podium with a portico to the north. Its shape is unique: niches make up its base and the base of its dome and connect the four columns surrounding the round cella, which is surrounded by a wall adorned with five niches. A high staircase led to the portico, which is crowned by a pediment and supported by eight columns, four (standing on a square base) on each side of the entrance. Unlike the Greek and Roman temples, where the columns around the cella are found on the same level on which stands the cella, here the columns that surround the cella are found on a lower level than that of the cella. This creates a monumental effect, despite the modest size of the temple.
The original and bold design of the temple of Venus creates a graceful impression reminiscent of baroque style, which makes it a unique phenomenon among the temples of Baalbek and among other classical temples.
Image - The temple of Venus in Baalbek and its ground plan
The Roman baths, also known as thermae, (literally in Latin: "hot"), constituted an integral part of the Roman way of life. They provided hot and cold water and had a clear social significance. The term thermae was originally associated with hot water, but over time, its meaning expanded, and served to define various types of baths.
The Roman baths were opened in the morning for women and in the afternoon for men. There were also baths for both men an women operating as brothels or as meeting places for fornicating couples. Emperor Hadrian forbade the activity of such baths.
The baths were the palaces of the Roman people, and thus the concept of democracy was fulfilled. The poor and the slaves were able to visit them as other residents, and enjoy all the luxuries. Emperor Hadrian's biographer said that the Emperor bathed at the public baths as anyone else. A team available to visitors included manicurists, barbers, hair washers and hundreds of slaves who were to make bathing a luxurious experience. Seneca, the Roman philosopher and statesman, said that the sweat should be the result of hard physical labor, rather than unproductive session in the hot room.
In the first century CE large bath houses were built for the convenience of the public. Their ground plan was complex, but symmetrical. Symmetry was considered synonymous with luxury.
Marcus Agrippa built in 12-25 BCE the first large and magnificent public baths in Rome. Agrippa enabled free entry to the baths that he built. The baths included large halls, in which one led to another. There were hot, lukewarm, and cold tubs and massage rooms.
In building the baths, Caracalla's intention was to convey a message to the citizens that the government cared for them. It was a means of propaganda, by which Caracalla wanted to ensure a peaceful reign and win the support of the citizens of Rome, after murdering his brother Geta, who was his partner in power. Likewise, he was interested in building an enterprise that would perpetuate his name.
Caracalla's baths were built near the Circus Maximus (see sub-chapter Circus, chapter on entertainment buildings) and the Royal Palace. It was a site where the father of Caracalla, Septimius Severus built much. Thus, Caracalla completed the development of an area built by his family. The access roads to the baths were comfortable and the location on the outskirts of the city enabled building without space limitations.
In 847, an earthquake caused the destruction of parts of the baths of Caracalla, but the greatest damage was caused to the baths by Pope Paul III Farnese (served 1534-1549), who reused its stones to build the church of San Pietro in Rome. Likewise, he turned pools from the baths into fountains, and placed them before the Farnese Palace.
The baths of Diocletian, built during the years 298-306 CE, had a layout which resembled that of the baths of Caracalla. They could accommodate 3,000 people and covered an area of 361x376 square meters.
Agrippa, Trajan, Diocletian and Caracalla - all built baths in Rome and in major cities in the provinces. In the city of Timgad in North Africa there were no less than eleven bath houses.
The earliest basilicas were built in the second century BCE and served as centers of commerce and as courts. The basilica was the largest type of building used for the gathering of people under one roof, for non-religious purposes. It was usually placed at the forum, and had a major role in civilian life in the city. The meaning of the word "basilica" (basilike in Greek) is "the King's house". Although the origin of the word is Greek, the oldest basilicas are found in Rome.
The shape of the basilica's ground plan is rectangular with an apse (semicircular niche) at one end of the building or at each end. The basilica is symmetrical along the longitudinal axis and at times along the axis of width too. The entrance to the basilica was located at its end or on its side. The nave (the main wing rising above the two wings flanking it) is supported by arcades (series of arches supported by pillars), illuminated by a clerestory (a story of windows located over the roofs of the side wings). Each side wing consists of three barrel vaults. The nave's ceiling was made of crossing vaults (a vault created by the intersection of two barrel-vaults).
The drawback of the basilica compared to the forum was its being smaller in area, but its advantage over the forum was its being roofed and protected from the weather.
The Basilica of Maxentius, (also known as the Basilica Nova), whose construction began between the years 306-310 by Maxentius (lived 279-312 CE) and completed by Constantine after 313 CE, was very impressive. It covered an area of 6,500 square meters, larger than the area of the Roman baths.
Trajan's Market, designed by Apollodorus from Damascus, was built during the years 100-112 CE, and was the center of commercial activity in Rome. There were 150 shops and offices in the structure similar to modern shopping centers. Its plan takes advantage of the slope of the Quirnal hill, leading to the Forum of Trajan.
The market structure was functional and monumental - a combination typical of Roman architecture. It was designed in the shape of a roofed promenade with ribbed vaults, and included two-storey hall above which was a balcony floor also serving as a clerestory. On either side of the promenade, there were shops. Many of them were paved with mosaics, which showed the types of goods sold in them.
In order to support the high vaults the architect used stone arches as external supports. A thousand years later architects built flying buttresses where the same principle was implemented, to support the great Gothic cathedrals. Its seems that the innovative structure supporting Trajan's Market, did not recur in Roman architecture.
The Amphitheater, like the Roman drama, drew inspiration from Greece, but while Greek theater was built on the slopes of a hill, taking advantage of the surface, the Roman theater was built on a planar ground. Sometimes the Romans removed hills to flatten the land and build an amphitheater above it.
In fact, the Romans developed the structure of Greek theater. They doubled it to form an amphitheater (amphitheatron, literally in Greek: enables to see around; theatai: to see), built in the city, away from the hills surrounding it.
The difference between the main purpose of the amphitheater and theater is reflected in the form of the structure. The amphitheater is a complete oval, with an oval arena at the center. This type of structure had no precedent in Greece. This is not surprising because the amphitheater was designed primarily to show battles of gladiators (gladius, literally in Latin: sword) between men and animals, which was unacceptable to the residents of Greece.
Professional gladiators, first-degree criminals, prisoners of war and slaves, fought each other or animals. Their weapons included nets, swords, pitchforks, or torches. During the hundred days of the ceremonial opening of the Coliseum, in 80 CE, hundreds of animals and two thousand gladiators were killed in the performances. In 404 CE Emperor Honorius (ruled 395-423) banned such performances and made them illegal. After this prohibition, battles between animals continued for another hundred years.
Image - The Coliseum in Rome
On the first floor there are pilasters (flat columns slightly projecting, and built into the face of the wall) with Doric capitals. On the second floor, there are pilasters with Ionic capitals, and on the third - pilasters with Corinthian capitals. These Greek architectural elements are used here purely for decorative purpose.
Like in other amphitheaters, at the Coliseum too there was a magnificent system of underground passageways and rooms beneath the arena, which served the competitors before they appeared on the arena. During the first ten years of its existence, this part of the coliseum was full of water, and served for staged water fights. Over time the Romans understood that this did damage to the foundations and pavement of the structure.
The largest building used for entertainment in the Roman world was the Circus (literally in Latin: a circular line, circle). The source of the circus was the Greek hippodrome. The structure of the circus was usually incorporated with the baths.
Image - Remains of the Circus of Maxentius
The Roman pioneer in building aqueducts was the censor Appius Claudius Crassus (later Caecus), who built in 312 BCE the Aqua Appia; (literally, water of Appius) - the aqueduct used for moving water to Rome and paved over 16.2 kilometers or so. In fact, the Romans did not call the aqueducts by names, but the water that moved through them. Aqueduct Aqua Appia was mostly subterranean; this was influenced by the Etruscans, who created an underground crossed system of canals in the countryside.
Later, during the years 272-269 BCE, another aqueduct was built - Aqua Anio Vetus (literally in Latin: the water of old Anio) which led water from Anio Valley reaching a length four times the length of the length of aqua Appia.
The structures of the aqueducts required constant maintenance, which involved repairing and restorations. The meaning of discontinuing these works was ceasing the functioning of the aqueduct.
For ceremonial needs, the Romans took the memorial columns and triumphal arches from the Hellenistic culture. Triumphal arches and memorial columns are architectural monuments, although they do not include space for residential purposes or gathering of people. These monuments are an integral part of the urban landscape. Their importance lies in their symbolic value.
Triumphal arches were common throughout the Roman Empire as architectural monuments representing power and marking symbolic points of the entry to cities. Usually, triumphal arches were monuments built in memory of military victories. After each military victory, a big crowd would gather to watch the general passing through the triumphal arch with prisoners and booty.
Triumphal arches first appeared around 200 BCE, and served as a tool of propaganda by the government. Many triumphal arches were built, but only few have survived.
The reliefs show the victories of Constantine, including the victory over Maxentius. Eight marble sculptures located above the Corinthian columns, which describe Dacian prisoners, were probably taken from the Forum Trajan, where similar statues were found. Pairs of round reliefs, two meters in diameter each, located above the three arches. depict hunting and ritual sacrifice. Their style is similar to that of the period of Hadrian.
Reliefs showing the victory of Constantine indicate abandonment of the classical style, which presented figures with ideal proportions, for a symbolic presentation, anticipating the medieval style. The emperor, who is the most important figure, is also the largest figure and the only one showing the front. His subjects look smaller and are presented in profile, as a kind of visual expression of them being subject to him.
The triumphal arches had a great influence on architectural design in the Middle Ages and after.
Victory columns were built in memory of distinguished men and military victories. The most famous of them are the columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, in Rome. Like the obelisks in Egypt, and the prehistoric menhirs, these columns can be seen as historical phallic symbols.
The Romans called every burial structure approaching the dimensions and splendor of the mausoleum of Halicarnassus by the name of . mausoleum.
Image - The mausoleum of Hadrian
Until the beginning of the third century, emperors were buried in the mausoleum of Hadrian. In the fifth century it was connected by walls built by Emperor Honorius to the wall built by Marcus Aurelius, and became a fortress called castellum (literally in Latin: Fortress). Later, the place became a military base known as Castelo St. Angelo.
Another important Roman burial structure is the mausoleum of Diocletian in Spalato (literally in Italian: a small palace), in Split) (in today's Croatia), built in 300 CE. The mausoleum is octagonal from the outside, and stands on a podium. It has a dome. surrounded by Corinthian peristyle (literally in Greek: surrounded by columns). Inside, the structure is circular about 13 meters in diameter. This mausoleum is part of the palace of Diocletian in Spalato (see below). Today it serves as a cathedral.
One of the common structures of the Roman burial structures was the pyramid. The Romans were interested in Egypt since it became part of the Roman Empire. Egyptian shapes and motifs were particularly fashionable during Augustus' reign.
Image - The pyramid of Cestius
In earlier times the Romans used to bury their dead under the floor of the atrium, a fact which made the atrium associated with death and the spirits of the dead ancestors.
The Romans added another courtyard to the Greek model - the peristylum). In the houses of the rich in the cities, there was a pool of water in the courtyard, to which was often added a fountain. This pool was made by an artist, and was usually adorned with reliefs. It contributed to increasing humidity and reducing the high temperature of the dry Mediterranean summer.
The floors were covered with stone, marble or mosaic, while the walls were covered with marble or frescoes. The ceilings were constructed of uncovered wood. In the richer houses gold, ivory or frescoes were used for coating the ceilings.
The landlord's social status was reflected in his home design. Decoration was not only a means to show off wealth, but also help define the purpose of the various internal spaces in the house. The floor of the foyer was usually decorated with a mosaic that included a message to the visitor, sometimes a welcome inscription wishing him blessings or financial success, and sometimes warning of a dog.
Most of the houses were illuminated from above rather than from the windows facing the street, because the windows were closed with wooden shutters. Since the end of the republic began the use of glass to allow penetration of light to homes. Until then, the windows were designed in lattice design. The first windows were round but the glass was not fully transparent. In the first century CE appeared a clear glass of the type familiar to us today. At the end of the first century there were many glassmaking workshops in Italy, which spread even into Gallia.
Roofs were sloping or flat. The sloping roof was tiled, sometimes pointed, sloping on all sides. Flat roof, called a solarium, was usually decorated with vegetation.
The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum provide the most complete information on the Greco-Roman house, from the Fourth Century BCE until the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in 79 CE. Both cities suffered greatly from the damage caused to them by the earthquake in 62 CE, and many of the houses were renovated and expanded before the great catastrophe.
During the prosperous times of the Roman Empire, new types of homes developed. The rich built houses in the village. The ideal place to live in was an estate in the country – the villa, which combined the ancient Etruscan house with Greek elements. With the peace prevailing during the rule of Augustus, there was no need to fortify the house.
The villa was perceived as a particular type of building, highlighting the relationship between architecture and natural surroundings and creating a combination of these both elements.
People in the classical world perceived nature as mythological and allegorical. For the Greeks nature had a divine significance. Each kind of tree, for instance, was sacred to its own god (oak was sacred to Zeus, olive tree was sacred to Athena, etc.). The Romans, who adopted the attitude of the Greeks, believed that the spirits of the gods reside in nature, in trees or rocks for instance. The gods were believed to watch over fields, orchards, vineyards, springs, forests, etc. Jupiter, for example, was believed to protect the sacred oak trees. Man's natural environment was seen as an ideal background to live in.
An example of a magnificent villa from the imperial period, is the villa of Emperor Hadrian in Tivoli. The villa stands in plane land surrounded by gardens, against spectacular views, some 30 km northeast of Rome. Hadrian built it during the first ten years of his rule, and it was his preferred place of residence.
The building of the villa displays a variety of architectural forms using skill and imagination in using concrete coated with brick. A striking feature of the villa is a constant game of curved lines, instead of the usual rectangular shapes. Courtyards surrounded by colonnades and entrance halls were incorporated in harmony with octagonal and round apartments. In the construction of the the villa concrete design reached perfection.
The villa was decorated with mosaic floors, statues and monuments of stone, whose purchase was made possible due to the wealth of the empire.
During late antiquity villas began to crumble, and later their stones were reused for building palaces.
The palace of Nero, which was named the Golden House (Domus Aurea), was built in 65 CE in Rome. Unlike Hadrian's villa in Tivoli, this palace was built within the city. It was the greatest monumental complex built in Rome - a sort of city in central Rome, surrounded by fields and lakes.
Another important achievement in building palaces during the Roman Empire is the Palace of Diocletian in Spalato (modern split), built in 300 on the coast of Dalmatia (today's Croatia), near the Roman city of Salonae. Some found etymological connection between the word Spalato and the word "palatium" which means "palace". Wilkes contends in his book Diocletain's Palace that this has no basis. According to him the origin of the name Spalato is in Aspalathos a kind of bush, which was probably common on the beaches of Dalmatia.
In 305 Diocletian decided to retire and become a private citizen. He moved to his palace in Spalato - the area where he was born, and refused to return to political life. His retirement was unprecedented one-time act, which caused astonishment at the time.
Architects from the East were commissioned by Diocletian to build his palace on a rectangular area of approximately 215X180 square meters. The palace occupies a large area of the medieval city of Spalato in Dalmatia, which was called due to the dominance of the palace, "a city within a home."
The magnificent palace looked like a rural royal palace on the beach. Its splendor can be seen in its arcade extending along the Adriatic coast. Like a Roman military camp, high walls surrounded it.
In this composition are integrated the design of a magnificent Italian house including spectacular logia structures (roofed arcade or colonnade with two sides or more open) with the shape of a Roman military camp.
The ground plan of the palace was almost rectangular. At each corner of the rectangle was a square tower. Broad colonnades crossed each other in right angle and the meeting point marked the center of the palace. These colonnades remind of the orthogonal plan, which characterized the Roman military camp.
Image - The palace of Diocletian in Split, restored
In the center of each of the four sides of the rectangle surrounding the palace was a gate named centuries later after a metal (each gate was named after another metal). The fortified structure of the palace reflects the uncertainty, which prevailed during its construction.
In the third century BCE Rome developed the building of residential apartment buildings at least three floors in height. It was the Roman way of solving the problem of population growth. In the first century BCE there were apartment buildings that had reached a height of five stories or more. These apartment buildings were called "insula" (insulae, literally in Latin: "islands"). On the ground floor of an insula were usually shops and workshops.
Evidence to insula from as early as 218 BCE can be found in the writings of Livy who tells about a bull that escaped and fell from the third floor of a building in the Forum Boarium.
The city of Rome was made up mostly of apartment buildings, rising to even ten stories. These buildings were not safe for residential use, since due to their height they were not durable, and the living conditions there were hazardous to health. They were prone to fires and hygiene conditions there were poor.
Unlike organized cities of the empire, like Ostia and Pompeii, Rome was a crowded, smelly and exposed the danger of fires. In many poor neighborhoods many buildings collapsed and buried the people under them. These were popular casa-type buildings "(popolare casa) - popular buildings of six floors inhabited with maximum number of occupants and built using the opus (opus craticum). This construction method combines upright wooden beams used as frames for horizontal rows of bricks.
In some of the tall buildings, there was a small inner courtyard, which enabled the penetration of a little light and air into the apartments. Unlike the domus, which turned inward to the courtyard, the insula turned outward and had many windows on the front. A significant feature of the insula was a total lack of comfort. Each floor was divided into several apartments. There was neither heating nor running water, except for the first floor, and there was no sewage system. These apartments' rents were low. Due to lack of proper facilities for cooking in the insula, the Romans ate and drank at restaurants in their neighborhoods. Sometimes restaurants were located on the first floor of the insula. Cooking in the apartments caused a constant danger of fire combustion, which typically spread quickly.
Apartment buildings of concrete and brick were more resistant to fire. These were probably built by wealthy private entrepreneurs, who were able to acquire better building materials, and employ a large number of talented carpenters, artisans, and concrete engineers.
In Ostia there were many insulae consisted of three residential floors above the ground floor. Often there was a balcony running along the whole floor. Staircase was usually on the front, but sometimes in the inner courtyard.
Image - Insula in Ostia
The modern football stadium is a variation of the Roman amphitheater, just as the barrel vaults of Roman baths have been used as models for many train stations.
The Roman massive construction, arches, and the heavy vaults, which were very popular in Roman architecture inspired Romanesque architecture, whose name indicates that it was influenced by ancient Roman architecture. The Roman baths can be seen as the prototype of the Romanesque church building and of the vaults from which evolved the Gothic church.
The Roman domes are the source of all modern Western domes.
Characteristics of Roman construction such as glass windows and central heating can be found in modern construction. Likewise, the Romans were the first to use concrete for the construction of tall buildings (though the Roman concrete differs from the reinforced concrete used today).
The book of Roman architect Vitruvius on architecture, which was written in 25 BCE, serves to teach architectural principles that are also taught by contemporary architects.
Like Greek Architecture, Roman architecture left its mark throughout the history of architecture. It served as inspiration in designing space, bridges, stadiums, theaters and memorial structures.
The Roots of the Roman city lie in the ancient Etruscan city that preceded it. The Etruscans were the first builders of cities in northern and central Italy. Before their time people lived in wooden huts in villages. During the seventh century BCE cities began to be build and houses of stone and mud-brick replaced the huts.
The Etruscans saw in the city a material and spiritual entity, limited in area defined and marked in advance. Sacred ceremonies were conducted with the establishment of a city. These ceremonies, which were adopted later on by the Romans, are described in the Etruscan sacred books.
The Etruscans adopted the orthogonal plan of the city, if topographic conditions suited it. This city plan was based on the four cardinal points, and the east, being the direction from which the sun rises, was considered significant and most important of the four winds. West was considered secular compared with the sacred east. The north was considered high class and the south - low class. The word "orientation", which is derived of the word "orient" (meaning "east"), illustrates the importance of the east.
In the eyes of the Etruscans, their city plan was a small model of the world - a microcosm. The Etruscans believed that the sky was divided into four quarters by an invisible cross consisting of north-south axis that crosses the east-west axis. They believed that the good and evil forces are located permanently on the four quarters of heaven according to the location of the gods.
Outside the area of Etruria, Etruscan cities were organized and orderly. Two Etruscan colonies from the beginning of the fifth century BCE show that: Marzabotto in the north and Capoue in the south. The city of Marzabotto, about 20 km from Bologna, is built on an extensive plane at the foot of Misanello Hill, which is the acropolis of the city. The streets of the city run accurately from north to south and from east to west. The main streets were the cardo and decumanus. Their width was 14 meters (including the width of sidewalks); the width of the road itself was 9 meters. Marzabotto was destroyed by the Gauls in the fifth century CE. Similar design appears in Capoue.
Image - The city of Marzabotto , plan
Other Etruscan cities were also built according to orthogonal plan; these cities had roads and sewers. They were fortified with thick and powerful wall of the cyclopean type, as already seen in the podium of the temple of Jupiter in Baalbek.
The Etruscans influenced the Romans in planning their cities as they influenced them in other areas. Among the Roman cities, as among the Etruscan ones, there were orthogonal cities and cities built without a consistent and orderly layout.
Building a wall was the first step in establishing a colonial Roman city. In the next step buildings were built. For the Romans, like for the Greeks, the establishment of a city was a civic and political action. However, the central role of religion was not missing. This was expressed in sacred ceremonies, which were an integral part of founding a city.
The Romans believed that the gates of the Roman city were under the care of the god Janus (Ianus, literally in Latin: entrance or door), the god with two faces from Hindu European mythology. Janus was the god of light and sun, which opened the gates of heaven in the morning and closed them at night. As time went on he also became the god of entering and leaving, passing through each entrance or passage (and considered as the god of the house). These passages were sacred. The arches along the streets were called "Iani", and symbolized the open sky. Many of these arches, especially the arches in the markets, busy streets and intersections, were dedicated to Janus, and were decorated with his image.
The god Portunos was also presented on doors of residential houses with a key in his hand. Often, monsters and fabulous creatures protected the gates. Cities and castles were protected by creatures that appeared in sculpture and relief - lions, griffins, bulls, half men - half scorpions, half men or women - half lions, sometimes winged (like the Egyptian sphinxes).
Unlike the Greeks, whose city planning was refined and reserved in nature, the Roman city planning was characterized by a conscious monumentality. While the Greek streets were winding and unpaved, the Roman streets were straight and paved in stone. Major streets were usually built with arcades (pillars with their supporting arches). Streets and intersections were emphasized by a new element – the triumphal arch. Streets functioned as active areas in the urban landscape: while the Greeks excelled in finding ways to create open spaces integrated into the landscape, the Romans came to perfection in closing spaces and controlling human activity. They built many public buildings, mainly on the seven hills of Rome: theaters, amphitheaters, temples, libraries, etc., and fountains in the corners in the city.
The attitude of the Greek geographer Pausanias (143-176 CE) referring to the Greek town Panopeus, in the Phosis region, reflects the typical approach to the Roman city in the second century CE. Paosanias asks how this settlement could be considered a city, if it lacked public buildings, theater, central square, running water and if people lived in wretched huts in the mountains. Paosanias reflects the difference between the ancient Greek perception, which saw the polis as a community, and between the Roman perception which attached importance to the material comfort of the citizens.
The policy of "bread and entertainment", which has boosted the popularity of the authorities among the public, ensured the survival of the empire no less than its military power. Urban life was public and opened to everyone. Public squares (fora), temples, civil basilica, and buildings
Wide streets and monumental public buildings linked the urban areas. In the main streets, especially in the eastern part of the empire, colonnades were built. These public monuments were important status symbols of the city.
First and foremost the considerations in building a city were military. The streets were designed according to plan, using accurate measurements. The roads were built with a slight curve to allow drainage of rainwater into the ditches around the edges.
One of the important military targets of the Romans was building roads to connect the various cities in the colonies that were inhabited by Roman citizens, or by citizens of other Latin cities. These roads were designed to serve the Romans in wartime.
When the Romans built military camps, they did it quickly and accurately. Modernist architect Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950) contended that in building such towns like the construction of the Egyptian city of Kahun in ancient Egypt, the city of workers, construction was quick, there was no time for planning according to personal tendencies and preferences, and the streets were laid out in straight lines in functional and practical way.
Roman colonial cities were planned as complete units designed in rigid order, as evidenced by the remains of the city of Timgad (Thamugadi) in North Africa - one of the colonies that have been preserved in the best condition.
Image - The city of Timgad, plan
The monumental intersection of the city, where the two main streets in the city met was the center of Roman life. Jerusalem during the Byzantine period, as seen in the mosaic Madaba (565 CE), illustrates this clearly. The cardo maximus, a street 30 meters in width with colonnade, stretched from south to north, and connected the two main gates of the city. The decomanus crossed it at right angle, from east to west, from the gate to the temple. The Holy Sepulcher, palaces and markets, all were located along the cardo. This layout still exists to this day.
Image -mosaic map of Jerusalem, Madaba map
In the second century CE about one million people lived in Rome. More than ten percent of the Roman Empire, which constituted about five million people, lived in cities. Roman rule founded hundreds of cities throughout the empire.
The cities of the empire have been linked together by roads in total length of 80,000 km which took 500 years to complete. These roads were of excellent quality and stretched from Syria in the east to England in the west. They crossed planes, tunnels and bridges. Never has it happened that so many people lived in cities interconnected by built roads. Later these roads facilitated the spread of Christianity throughout the empire.
The Roman Empire, which brought prosperity and cultural bloom to many cities throughout the empire, also brought their decline with its fall.
At the foot of Capitol Hill was the forum, which, like the Athenian agora, was the heart of commerce, religion and rule of Rome. Originally, the forum was the market square in the border of the Roman city. The word "forum" (in plural: fora) originates in the Latin word "foris" meaning "outside." The forum was not a simple square. It developed in Rome and became a complex of public buildings, including the Curia (the senate meetings house), the basilica, temples, law courts, markets, council houses, and open spaces surrounded by colonnades. Local speakers stood in these open spaces.
Because of their great significance, the forum and marketplace were placed in the intersection of the two main streets, which were straight, and divided the city into quarters. Despite the central location of the forum, vehicles on wheels were not allowed entrance to its compound.
The Roman forum became the showcase of the empire. Over time its scope expanded to suit the needs of the extensive public activity. The compound of the forum and its buildings represented the development of the political power, which had been steadily rising.
The greatest and most spectacular forum of Rome was the forum of Trajan (100-112 CE), which was designed by the architect of the empire, Apollodorus of Damascus. Trajan's forum, the last forum built, had a shape close to rectangle. From west to east the forum included the temple of Trajan (which has not survived) and a Greek and Latin libraries. Between these libraries stood the column of Trajan, built in honor of the victory of Trajan in Dacia (Romania today). Behind these was placed the basilica, with its inner colonnade. At the end, another colonnade stood in the open area of the forum, with the statue of the emperor in the middle, and colonnades forming semicircles to the north and south of it.
Vitruvius wrote that the forum had to match the crowd, since in the forum the multitude gathered to witness the generals who marched with the loot of victory and the prisoners, and passed through the triumphal arches.
Besides public fora, squares were relatively rare, because it was also possible to conduct meetings outside the city walls, in the open air.
An example of a nymphaeum is found in the villa Horti Liciniani of the Emperor Licinus Gallienus (ruled 253-268 CE) in Rome. This structure was mistakenly known since the 17th century as the temple of Minerva Medica. This nymphaeum was built in the fourth century CE, and was part of the Liciniani gardens which surrounded the estate of the powerful Liciniani family.
Image - Nymphaeum in villa Horti Liciniani (temple Minerva Medica
The Romans devoted special attention to transportation within the city. Julius Caesar decided to create a new plan for the forum, which was too busy already during the republic. He destroyed the Curia (the senate) to make room for a way decorated with colonnade and a temple beside the road leading to the forum of Julius Caesar. Ways were converted to one-way streets and parking lots for coaches were determined. Likewise, loading luggage during peak hours and the movement of wheeled vehicles on city streets at night were prohibited. This Act was renewed from time to time during the empire.
The most daring initiative of Julius Caesar was changing the path of the Tiber River which often overflowed and flooded the city. The claims of his opponents, according to which his intention was to speculate the land that was added as a result of this change, were refuted when he passed this land to the residents.
The ideal City According to Vitruvius
Vitruvius, in his ten books on architecture, discusses the city as a whole and refers to the ideal city. He does not discuss the city as reflecting a social utopia, but refers to the model characteristic of his period. He emphasizes the architecture which serves the rich and powerful, while the social questions are discussed only on the edges. Though there were tall buildings in Rome under the republic, these are not addressed in the writings of Vitruvius, indicating the lack of interest in ordinary people. However, he presents the principles of designing houses according to the profession and social status of their owners. These include houses of lawyers and orators, and houses of the upper classes who served the public.
Vitruvius writes that in order to build a city, a site good for health should be selected - a high place with a temperate climate, without swamps next door (that will make it ill stricken). The location should ensure food sources and convenient transportation routes to the city. A wall should surround the city. A round wall is preferred over square wall with protruding corners. Thus, the enemy can be seen from many points. Likewise, the wall will have towers for defense.
After planning the alleys and streets, the sites of temples, forum and other public buildings, would be marked, taking into account the welfare of the residence and efficiency.
In a city situated at the beach Vitruvius recommends that the forum would be located near the port area, while in a city in the heart of the land the city center would serve this purpose. The temples of the patron gods of the city would be placed, in his opinion, in the highest point in town.