Roman Engineering and Construction

Lynne Lancaster

in The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199734856
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Roman Engineering and Construction

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
  • Historical Archaeology



This article concentrates on various aspects of Roman building technology. One of the most renowned of the Roman contributions to building technology was the development of concrete, which affected the vaulted roofing schemes, and bridge and harbor construction. The production of bricks in imperial Rome is a prime example of technological advance that resulted in increased organization rather than innovation. The development of large-scale vaulted structures is one of the most significant Roman contributions to the history of building technology and engineering. The structural reinforcement of vaults and arches, the technological advances in heating methods, and the vaulting techniques are all explored. Technological innovation in Rome occurs in response to a number of conditions including accumulated knowledge, evident need, economic possibility, and social/cultural acceptability, and a brief summary of the conditions that influenced Roman innovation provides some additional insight into the motivating forces within Roman culture.

Keywords: Roman building technology; Roman engineering; Roman culture; concrete; bricks; vaults; arches; vaulting techniques; heating methods

Article.  12557 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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