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Roman Architecture: Engineering an Empire

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Krystal Coenen
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« on: July 16, 2007, 03:42:46 pm »



The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

The Architecture of Ancient Rome adopted the external language of classical Greek architecture for their own purposes, which were so different from Greek buildings as to create a new architectural style. The two styles are often considered one body of classical architecture. Sometimes that approach is productive, and sometimes it hinders understanding by causing us to judge Roman buildings by Greek standards, particularly when we take a point of view limited to external appearance alone.

Certainly, the Romans absorbed Greek influence in many aspects closely related to architecture, for example in the introduction and use of the Triclinium in Roman villas as a place and manner of dining. But at this point so too should we note Roman indebtedness to their Etruscan neighbours and forefathers who supplied them with a wealth of knowledge essential for their future architectural solutions, for example in terms of hydraulics and in the construction of arches.

Adopting this broader view of architecture we can see that social elements such as wealth and high population densities in cities forced the ancient Romans to discover new (architectural) solutions of their own. For example, the use of vaults and arches together with a sound knowledge of building materials enabled them to achieve unprecedented successes in the construction of imposing structures for public use. Examples include the aqueducts, the Pantheon (largest single span dome for well over a millennium), the basilicas and perhaps most famously of all, the Colosseum.

Political propaganda demanded that these buildings should be made to impress as well as perform a public function. The Romans didn't feel restricted by Greek aesthetic axioms alone in order to achieve these objectives. The Pantheon is a supreme example of this, particularly in the version rebuilt by Hadrian and which still stands in its celestial glory as a prototype of several other great buildings of Western architecture.

The Roman use of arches together with their improvements in the use of concrete and construction of vaulted ceilings also enabled huge (covered) public spaces such as the public baths and basilicas.

Art historians such as Gottfried Richter in the 20's identified THE Roman architectural innovation as being the Triumphal Arch and it is poignant to see how this symbol of power on earth was transformed and utilised within the Christian basilicas when the Roman Empire of the West was on its last legs: The arch was set before the altar to symbolize the triumph of Christ and the after life.

On a less visible level for the modern observer, ancient Roman developments in housing and public hygiene are far more impressive, especially given their day and age. Clear examples are baths and latrines which could be either public or private, not to mention developments in under-floor heating, double glazing (examples in Ostia) and piped water (examples in Pompeii).

Possibly most impressive from an urban planning point of view were the multi-storey apartment blocks built to cater for a wide range of situations. These buildings solely intended as large scale accommodation could reach several floors in height. Although they were often dangerous, unhealthy and prone to fires there are examples in cities such as the Roman port town of Ostia which date back to the reign of Trajan and point to solutions which catered for a variety of needs and markets.

As an example of this we have the housing on Via della Foce: large scale real estate development made to cater for up-and-coming middle class entrepreneurs. Rather like modern semi-detached housing these had repeated floor plans intended to be easily and economically built in a repetitive fashion. Internal spaces were designed to be relatively low-cost yet functional and with decorative elements reminiscent of the detached houses and villas to which the buyers might aspire in their later years. Each apartment had its own terrace and private entrance. External walls were in Opus Reticulatum whilst interiors in Opus Incertum which would then be plastered and possibly painted. Some existing examples show alternate red and yellow painted panels to have been a relatively popular choice of interior decor.

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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2007, 03:43:38 pm »

Innovation

Innovation started in the first century BC, with the invention of concrete, a strong and readily available substitute for stone. Tile-covered concrete quickly supplanted marble as the primary building material and more daring buildings soon followed, with great pillars supporting broad arches and domes rather than dense lines of columns suspending flat architraves.The freedom of concrete also inspired the colonnade screen, a row of purely decorative columns in front of a load-bearing wall. In smaller-scale architecture, concrete's strength freed the floor plan from rectangular cells to a more free-flowing environment.

Although concrete had been used on a minor scale in Mesopotamia, Roman architects perfected it and used it in buildings where it could stand on its own and support a great deal of weight. The first use of concrete by the Romans was in the town of Cosa sometime after 273 BC. Ancient Roman concrete (opus cementicium) was a mixture of lime mortar, sand, water, and stones. The ancient builders placed these ingredients in wooden frames where it hardened and bonded to a facing of stones or (more frequently) bricks. When the framework was removed, the new wall was very strong with a rough surface of bricks or stones. This surface could be smoothed and faced with an attractive stucco or thin panels of marble or other coloured stones called revetment. Concrete construction proved to be more flexible and less costly than building solid stone buildings. The materials were readily available and not difficult to transport. The wooden frames could be used more than once, allowing builders to work quickly and efficiently.

On return from campaigns in Greece, the general Sulla returned with what is probably the most well-known element of the early imperial period: the mosaic, a decoration of colourful chips of stone inset into cement. This tiling method took the empire by storm in the late first century and the second century and in the Roman home joined the well known mural in decorating floors, walls, and grottoes in geometric and pictorial designs.

Though most would consider concrete the Roman contribution most relevant to the modern world, the Empire's style of architecture, though no longer used with any great frequency, can still be seen throughout Europe and North America in the arches and domes of many governmental and religious buildings
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2007, 03:47:32 pm »

Roman aqueduct



Pont du Gard, France, a Roman era aqueduct circa 19 BC. It is one of France's top tourist attractions at over 1.4 million visitors per year, and a World Heritage Site.


The ancient Romans constructed numerous aqueducts (Latin aquaeductūs, sing. aquaeductus) to supply water to cities and industrial sites. These aqueducts were among the greatest engineering feats of the ancient world, and set a standard not equaled for over a thousand years after the fall of Rome. Many cities still maintain and use the ancient aqueducts for their water supply even today.[citation needed]

The Romans typically built aqueducts to serve any large city in their empire. The city of Rome itself, being the largest city, had the largest concentration of aqueducts, with water being supplied by eleven aqueducts constructed over a period of 500 years.


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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2007, 03:48:44 pm »

Engineering


The combined length of the aqueducts in the city of Rome is estimated between 420 and a little over 500km. However, only 29 miles (47 km) were above ground, as most Roman aqueducts ran beneath the surface of the ground. Building underground helped to keep the water free from disease (the carcasses of animals would not be able to get into the aqueduct) and helped protect the aqueducts from enemy attack. The longest Roman aqueduct was that of Constantinople (Mango 1995). Perhaps the second longest, the Zaghouan Aqueduct, is 57.5 miles (92.5 km) in length. It was built in the 2nd century to supply Carthage (in modern Tunisia).

The arcades, a series of arches, popularly shown to depict an aqueduct, should not be confused with the aqueduct itself. These arches, sometimes on several tiers, together with tunnels, were constructed to maintain the pitch of the aqueduct, and the flow of water, over irregular terrain, for the long course to its destination.

Roman aqueducts were extremely sophisticated constructions. They were built to remarkably fine tolerances, and of a technological standard that had a gradient of only 34 cm per km (3.4:10,000), descending only 17 m vertically in its entire length of 50 km (31 miles). Powered entirely by gravity, they transported very large amounts of water very efficiently (the Pont du Gard carried 20,000 cubic meters — nearly 6 million gallons — a day and the combined aqueducts of the city of Rome supplied around 1 million cubic meters (300 million gallons) a day (an accomplishment not equalled until the late 19th century and represents a value 25% larger than the present water supply of the city of Bangalore, with a population of 6 million). Sometimes, where depressions deeper than 50 m had to be crossed, gravity pressurized pipelines called inverted siphons were used to force water uphill (although they almost always used venter bridges as well). Modern hydraulic engineers use similar techniques to enable sewers and water pipes to cross depressions.

 
A portion of the Eifel aqueduct, Germany, built in AD 80, showing the calcium carbonate that accretes on the sides of the channel without regular maintenance.In addition to the expertise needed to build them, Roman aqueducts required a comprehensive system of regular maintenance to repair accidental breaches, to clear the lines of debris, and to remove buildup of chemicals such as calcium carbonate that naturally occur in the water.



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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2007, 03:50:03 pm »



Valens aqueduct in Istanbul
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2007, 03:51:04 pm »



A portion of the Eifel aqueduct, Germany, built in AD 80, showing the calcium carbonate that accretes on the sides of the channel without regular maintenance.
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2007, 03:52:03 pm »

Construction

Many tools were used in the construction of Roman aqueducts, one example being the chorobates. The chorobates was used to level terrain before construction. It was a wooden object supported by four legs with a flat board on top in which was engraved a half circle. When used the half circle was filled with water and the angle at which there was no water was measured. Another tool used in the construction of the aqueduct was the groma. Gromas were used to measure right angles. A groma consisted of stones hanging off four sticks perpendicular to one another. Distant objects could be marked out against the station of the stones in a horizontal plane.


Decline of the aqueducts

With the fall of the Roman Empire, although some of the aqueducts were deliberately cut by enemies, many more fell into disuse from the lack of an organized maintenance system. The decline of functioning aqueducts to deliver water had a large practical impact in reducing the population of the city of Rome from its high of over 1 million in ancient times to considerably less in the medieval era, reaching as low as 30,000.

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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2007, 03:55:22 pm »

Map of Roman aqueducts



1.   Acqua Appia
2.   Anio vetus
3.   Marcia
4.   Tepula
5.   Iulia
6.   Virgo
7.   Alsietina
8.   Claudia
9.   Anio Novus
10.   Arcus Neroniani
11.   Traiana
12.   Rivus Herculaneus
13.   Marcia Antoniniana

Originariamente Roma si riforniva di acqua direttamente dal Tevere
ma a partire dalla fine del IV secolo a.C. vennero costruiti molti
acquedotti, un numero tale che la città non ebbe nei secoli a seguire
alcun problema idrico. La quantità d'acqua garantita giornaliera era
di circa un milione di metri cubi al giorno; basti considerare che at-
tualmente alla città di Roma vengono forniti circa un milione ottocen-
tomila metri cubi giornalieri per una popolazione tre volte superiore
di numero a quella antica.
Gli acquedotti vennero utilizzati fino alla caduta dell'Impero Romano
quando andarono rapidamente in disuso per la mancata manutenzio-
ne; oltre a questo negli anni successivi vennero anche in parte distrutti
nel 537 d.C. al tempo dell'assedio dei Goti a Roma (questi distrussero
gli acquedotti con lo scopo di assetare gli assediati).



http://www.archeoroma.com/gli_acquedotti.htm
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2007, 03:58:36 pm »





A bird’s eye view of the entrance to the underground part of aqueducts under the Cælian hill. The gate that can be seen at the top of the picture in the foreground is the Porta Capena (see “gates”).
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2007, 03:59:17 pm »



This picture shows us that both aqueducts disappear and become underground again a little further to supply water to the Baths of Decius and Sura on the Aventine.
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2007, 04:00:11 pm »



Both aqueducts as they are elevated. In the background the great Aqueduct Claudia.


http://www.maquettes-historiques.net/P9a.html
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2007, 04:02:40 pm »

List of Roman aqueducts by date

This is a list of Roman aqueducts listed in chronological order of their construction


Ancient Rome

•   Aqua Appia
o   built in 312 B.C.
o   source: springs 10 miles to the east of Rome
o   length: 10 miles; underground from its source for 7 miles, then on arches for 3 miles to its terminus in the Forum Boarium in Campus Martius
•   Aqua Anio Vetus
o   built in 272 - 269 B.C.
o   source: Anio (Aniene) River near Vicovaro, east of Rome
o   length: 40 miles; underground channel of stone from its source to its terminus on the Viminal Hill
•   Aqua Marcia
o   built in 144 - 140 B.C.
o   source: springs near Subiaco, east of Rome
o   length: 56 miles; underground for 50 miles from its source, then on arches for 6 miles to its terminus on the Capitoline Hill
o   later piped to the baths of Caracalla on the Caelian Hill by a branch called Aqua Antoniniana, then to the Aventine Hill and the Quirinal Hill
•   Aqua Tepula
o   built in 125 B.C.
o   source: springs near Subiaco, east of Rome
o   length: 11 miles; underground for 5 miles from its source, then on the same arches as those of the Aqua Marcia for 6 miles to its terminus on the Aventine Hill
•   Aqua Julia
o   built in 33 B.C.
o   source: springs near Subiaco, east of Rome
o   length: 14 miles; underground for 7 miles from its source, then on the same arches as those of the Aqua Marcia and Aqua Tepula to its terminus on the Aventine Hill
•   Aqua Virgo
o   built in 19 B.C.
o   source: springs near Via Collatina, east of Rome
o   length: 14 miles; underground for 7 miles from its source, then on arches for 7 miles to its terminus at the baths of Agrippa in Campus Martius
•   Aqua Alsietina
o   built in 2 B.C.
o   source: Lake Alsietina, now Lake Martignano, northwest of Rome
o   length: 14 miles; underground for 13 3/4 miles from its source, then on arches for 1/4-mile to its terminus at the Naumachia of Augustus in Transtiberim (Trastevere)
 
 
•   Aqua Claudia
o   built in A.D. 52
o   source: springs in Subiaco, east of Rome
o   length: 43 miles; underground for 34 miles from its source, then on arches for 9 miles to its terminus on the Caelian Hill
o   later piped to the imperial palaces from the mid-first century on the Palatine Hill
•   Aqua Anio Novus
o   built in A.D. 52
o   source: Anio (Aniene) River, east of Rome
o   length: 54 miles; underground for 46 miles from its source, then on arches for 8 miles, entering Rome at Porta Maggiore, atop the channel of Aqua Claudia to its terminus on the Caelian Hill
 
•   Aqua Trajana
o   built in A.D. 109
o   source: springs to the north of Lake Bracciano, northwest of Rome
o   length: 35 miles; underground for 29 miles from its source, then on arches for 6 miles to its terminus on the Janiculum Hill
•   Aqua Alexandrina
o   built in A.D. 226
o   source: the Pantano springs near Via Prenestina, east of Rome
o   length: 14 miles; underground for 4 miles from its source, then on arches for 10 miles to its terminus at the baths of Alexander Severus in Campus Martius
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2007, 04:03:45 pm »



Aqua Claudio, Aqua Anio Novus
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2007, 04:04:38 pm »



Porta Maggiore, the junction of Aqua Claudio and Aqua Anio Novus with Aqua Marcia and Aqua Tepula
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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2007, 04:06:01 pm »



Segovia, Spain. Roman aqueduct.
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