Ancient Roman Architecture

Roman Colosseum

'The Roman Colosseum'

History, Facts and Information about Ancient Roman Architecture
Architecture is defined as the 'art and science of designing and erecting buildings' and the ancient Romans were masters of Architecture - designing and erecting buildings. Their skills in building and engineering, including their invention of concrete,  resulted in different types and styles of architecture including the building of forts, villas, temples, towns, baths, great walls and roads - changing the face of Europe forever.

The history of Ancient Roman Architecture was divided into two distinctive eras. The first era was of the Republic where the origins of the architecture of the Romans can be traced to the Etruscans, who migrated from Asia Minor to Italy in the 12th Century BC. The second era started in 27BC and is classed as the period of the Empire. The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about Ancient Roman Architecture.

History of Ancient Roman Architecture
The Roman period marks the transition from a western world which comprised of barbaric regional tribes to the sophistication and civilisation of the the global conquerors of the Roman Empire. The period of Roman Architecture dates from the establishment of the Republic in 509BC to the transfer of the capital of the Empire from Rome to the Eastern empire in Constantinople in 330AD. The History of their Architecture was divided into two distinctive eras. The first era was of the Republic where the origins of their architecture can be traced to the Etruscans who mirrored the Greek and the Phoenician traditions, building large temples to honour their Gods. The second era of their architecture started in 27BC and is classed as the period of the Empire. Their Empire covered thousands of miles across Europe, North Africa and the Near East. The number of countries the Romans conquered afforded a vast number of culturally diverse people and the architecture of the Roman Empire therefore became eclectic i.e. made up of, or combining elements from. a variety of regional sources and styles.

Ancient Roman Architecture - Structures built by the ancient Romans
The era of Roman Architecture moving from the Republic to the Empire saw the development and construction of new structures and buildings. The ancient Romans were responsible for the development of:

  • Forums - squares which were surrounded by temples, shops, and basilicas
  • Basilicas - public buildings
  • Baths
  • Markets such as Trajan's market in Rome - a five story complex housing shops, bars and restaurants
  • Amphitheaters such as the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus
  • Theatres
  • Triumphal arches celebrating the victories of the Romans
  • Villas
  • Temples
  • Roads
  • Forts and Stockades
  • Towns
  • Aqueducts

Ancient Roman Architecture - Social and Cultural changes
The Social and cultural in Rome due to the expansion of the ancient Roman empire saw changes in Roman Architecture. The grandeur of their architecture reflected the social changes of the people of Rome - the Romans were the conquerors of half the civilised world. Their great stone and marble structures declared their wealth, dominance and power to all of the civilisations that were enslaved. To control and maintain the Roman Empire required fast access to these regions and provinces. The building of the roads provided the means for faster travel stretching 51,000 miles across the Empire. It is not surprising that we still repeat the saying 'All roads led to Rome". The massive ancient Amphitheatres were built for the mob. The ancient games provided entertainment whilst pronouncing the power and the extent of their dominance was exemplified by the brutal blood sacrifices of men and of exotic creatures such as crocodiles, leopards, elephants, lions and tigers.

Ancient Roman Architecture - Changing needs of the Population
The changing needs of the population demanded innovations in ancient Roman Architecture. The Roman Emperors required the support of the mob to stay in power so great public building projects were undertaken. The population was treated to games in the massive amphitheatres such as the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus. Spectacular triumphal processions across the Roman roads and through the Triumphal arches of the forums culminating in worshipping in the temples of their gods. Public baths created another diversion for both the rich and poor ancient Roman citizens. The wealthy ancient Roman patricians wanted luxury so their magnificent villas were built.  cities and their public baths

Ancient Roman Architecture - Building Materials and Labor
What materials were readily available for ancient Roman Architecture? Many of their buildings were at first built with timber but they then used stone and sumptuous marble. Many skills were required to achieve the high standards of ancient Roman architecture. To build the great structures and cities would have taken a labour force of thousands. This was not a problem for the Romans who had enslaved millions, taken the best ideas and building concepts from conquered nations and had the Roman army at the disposal who were responsible for building the vast network of ancient Roman roads. 

Ancient Roman Architecture - Concrete
The Magnificent examples of ancient Roman architecture was made possible by their invention and development of concrete without concrete the fabulous building such as the Pantheon, the arches and the Colosseum could not have been built.

Roman Colosseum
Roman Architecture

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