Roman Architecture

Janet DeLaine

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online July 2011 | | DOI:
Roman Architecture

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Architecture is the quintessential Roman art, and the well-preserved remains of Roman buildings dominate our vision of the Roman Empire. Alongside the temples and houses common to many societies, the Romans developed a wide range of new forms to meet the increasingly sophisticated and diverse needs of their society, such as baths, amphitheaters, and basilicas. Roman architecture is famous above all for its technological innovations and achievements, which found their greatest expression in wide-span buildings such as the Pantheon. They used arches and vaults widely from an early period, were highly skilled in timber construction, and developed concrete as a basic building material of wide-ranging application. The main evidence is the buildings themselves, many thousands of which survive to some degree, but ancient texts, especially the On Architecture of Vitruvius, and inscriptions provide much of the interpretative framework. Excavations and standing building surveys are constantly increasing our knowledge and understanding, sometimes confirming earlier hypotheses but also often requiring major reevaluations of established theories. Although Roman architecture has been studied since the Renaissance, it is only since the middle of the 20th century that it has come to be appreciated for the developments in concrete construction, which led to a revolution in the treatment of interior space. More recently, the emphasis has shifted to the processes of design and construction rather than the finished effect, and the role of architecture in society. Regional studies are also increasing, often tied to wider historical debates on identity and acculturation in the Roman Empire.

Article.  9770 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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