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Study Aid 5: Rome and its Empire

Although, Rome began as a hamlet for a primitive tribe in the 8th century BC, it came to rule the greatest empire of antiquity-- ringing the entire Mediterranean basin, spreading from Egypt to Scotland, and Spain to the Ukraine. The fame of the Roman legacy has inspired imperialistic imitators ever since, while the legacy of Roman architecture even continues to influence design today. Yet Rome was itself dramatically changed through its foreign contacts, as it sought to assimilate "alien" nations into its own civilization.

The Etruscans controlled Rome early in its history, and they influenced the general temple forms that the Romans would adopt, as well as their early engineering accomplishments. More obviously, Greek culture and art captured the Roman imagination (even as the Romans conquered the Greeks), and contemporary Hellenistic designs greatly influenced the development of Roman architecture. The only Western architectural treatise to survive from the ancient world, De Architectura (The Ten Books of Architecture) written by Vitruvius around 20 BC. Besides providing invaluable insights into ancient Roman architectural practice and theory, the book proved to be greatly influential on the architecture of the Renaissance and later periods.

When combined with the vaulting possibilities of the arch, Roman concrete (a tremendous technological breakthrough) allowed the Romans to build some of the most remarkable structures ever created, e.g.: The Forum and Markets of Trajan, (architect: Apollodorus of Damascus; Rome, c.107-112 AD); the Colosseum, (patron- Vespasian, Rome, 75-80 AD); the Pantheon, (patron- Hadrian, architect unknown- perhaps Hadrian, Rome, c.118-128 AD); the Baths of Caracalla, (Rome, c. 212-216 AD).

Roman Urbanism
Although Rome itself was mostly "organically" developed no central plan, the new towns begun by the Romans often followed the plan of a basic military camp called a castrum that was composed of a square, fortified plan with a primary N/S street (cardo) and an E/W street (decumanus) with a forum located near the intersection of these two streets; e.g. Gloucester, England, 96 AD; and Timgad, Algeria, circa 100-117 AD, created for veterans of Trajan's armies. Roman culture also allowed the creation of urban amenities unparalled in the ancient world: e.g. aqueducts, public baths (thermae), triumphal arches and gates, markets, amphitheaters, basilicas, fora (plural for forum), houses and apartments (insulae).

Much of our knowledge about daily life in the Roman Empire comes from archaeological excavations of the cities (such as Pompeii and Herculaneum) destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. In Pompeii and nearby towns, many examples of an urban, single-family, house type (domus) have been found, e.g. House of the Vettii, Pompeii (an older house that was substantially remodeled around 63 AD, before its destruction). Often faced with shops on the street elevation, the houses feature rooms arranged around one or two courtyards (atrium and peristyle).


Forum and Markets of Trajan

Date: 107-112AD
Location: Rome
Architect: Apollodorus of Damascus
Patron: Emperor Trajan

Imperial Rome in the 4th century Detail Trajan's Forum and Surrounding Area


Trajan1

Detail of Model

Trajan's Markets - Reconstruction - Birds-eye view

Trajan2

Reconstruction - Forum Courtyard

Trajan3

Markets - Section View

Reconstructed View of the Basilica Ulpla

Trajan4

Reconstruction - Library, Interior View

Trajan's Column

Trajan's Column (Detail of Shaft)


Colosseum

Date: 75-80 AD
Location: Rome
Architect: Unknown
Patron: Emperor Vespasian

Colosseum1

Reconstruction - Plan & Sections Showing Structural Systems

Colosseum2

Cut-Away Reconstruction View

Reconstruction Section

Aerial View

Exterior View

Colosseum4

Interior Elevation


Pantheon

Date: 118-128AD
Location: Rome
Architect: Hadrian(?)
Patron: Emperor Hadrian

Pantheon1

Model - Aerial View

Speculative Reconstruction (as built)

Speculative Reconstruction (with taller portico columns)

Cross Section

Pantheon

Front Elevation

Pantheon3

Exterior Elevation Detail with Marble Facing and Relieving Arches

Pantheon4

Exterior Elevation - Pediment Detail

Pantheon6

Interior Elevation - Detail Coffered Dome

Pantheon7

Section

Pantheon8

Interior Painting by Pannini, circa 1734


Baths of Caracalla

Date: 212-216 AD
Location: Rome
Architect: Unknown
Patron: Emperor Caracalla

Baths1

Plan and Interior Elevation

Section

Baths2

Model- Aerial View

Interior View of Central Hall

Reconstruction Cut Away by E. Viollet le Due 1876

Reconstruction View with Outdoor Pool

Aerial View

Baths3

Ruins

Baths4

Ruins of the Great Central Hall

Baths6

Mosaic Floor


Timgad

Date: 100-117 AD
Location: Algeria
Architect: Unknown

Timgad1

Aerial View

Timgad2

Triumphal Arch


House of the Vettii

Date: Older house, Remodeled circa 63 AD
Location: Pompeii
Architect: Unknown
Patron: The Vettii Brothers

Vettii1

Plan

Vettii2

Reconstruction - Axonometric View

Vettii3

Interior Elevation

Vettii4

Interior Elevation - Atrium

Vettii5

Typical Street

Interior Elevation - Peristyle Garden