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Roman Architecture: Engineering an Empire

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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #30 on: July 16, 2007, 04:46:23 pm »



The Antonine Wall, remains of Roman fortlet, Barr Hill, near Twechar

Wall abandoned

The wall was abandoned after only twenty years, when the Roman legions withdrew to Hadrian's Wall in 164, and over time reached an accommodation with the Brythonic tribes of the area who they fostered as the buffer states which would later become "The Old North". After a series of attacks in 197, Emperor Septimius Severus arrived in Scotland in 208 to secure the frontier, and repaired parts of the wall. Although this re-occupation only lasted a few years, the wall is sometimes referred to (by later Roman historians) as the Severan Wall. (This led to later scholars like Bede mistaking references to the Antonine Wall for ones to Hadrian's Wall.)


Post-Roman history

Grim's dyke


In medieval histories, such as the chronicles of John of Fordun, the wall is called Gryme's dyke. Fordun says that the name came from the grandfather of the imaginary king Eugenius son of Farquahar. This was corrupted into Graham's dyke – a name still found in Bo'ness at the wall's eastern end – and then linked with Clan Graham.

This name is the same one found as Grim's Ditch several times in England in connection with early ramparts: for example, near Wallingford in south Oxfordshire or between Berkhampstead (Herts) and Bradenham (Bucks).

Grim is presumed to be a byname for Odin or Wode, who might be credited with the wish to build earthworks in unreasonably short periods of time. By antiquaries the Graham's Dyke is usually styled the Wall of Pius or the Antonine Vallum, after the emperor Antoninus Pius, in whose reign it was constructed.

In a Scottish context, Grim is also found as a variant of the name Giric, a name borne by an obscure king Giric mac Dúngail of the late 9th century, to whom many great victories were attributed in medieval times.

It is also known sometimes as Graham's Dyke, this name is locally explained as a legend of a victorious assault on the defences by one Robert Graeme.
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #31 on: July 16, 2007, 04:51:48 pm »

Curia Julia



The Curia Hostilia (Latin, "Hostilian Court") was the favourite meeting place of the Roman Senate in the Forum Romanum at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, near the well of the Comitia.

Throughout antiquity there were two main buildings that served as the official meeting-place of the Roman Senate, the Curia Hostilia and the Curia Julia.

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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #32 on: July 16, 2007, 04:53:50 pm »

The Curia Hostilia

The original Senate House of Rome is the Curia Hostilia. It is believed to have been constructed during the reign of Tullus Hostilius, around the 7th century BC[1]. This Curia Hostilia was the site of the irregular execution of the demagogue Lucius Appuleius Saturninus and his partisans in 100 BC.

The first major alteration to the building came in 80 BC when Lucius Cornelius Sulla restored and enlarged the curia. It was burned down in 52 BC when a mob cremated the body of the demagogue Publius Clodius Pulcher inside it.


Description of the Curia Hostilia

As it was the oldest Senate House in Roman history, relatively little is known about it. One feature of the Curia that is mentioned in almost all sources is the “Tabula Valeria.” The “Tabula Valeria” was a painting on the exterior of the Curia’s western wall[2]. It depicted the victory of Marcus Valerius Messalla over Hiero and the Carthaginians in 263 BC[3]. Pliny says that the painting was the first such picture in Rome.[4]

Another fact most sources agree on is that the Curia Hostilia was located on the north side of the Comitium[5]. It is believed that the circular set of stairs of the Comitium led up to the Curia. With regard to the Curia’s location, Stambaugh writes, “[T]he Curia Hostilia was built on rising ground so as to dominate the whole space of the Forum Romanum”[6]. Given its prominent place in the Forum, it seems that the Curia Hostilia was a symbol of the strength of the Roman Republic.


Signifigance of the Curia Hostilia

During his reconstruction of the Curia Hostilia, Sulla kept the building in its original location. It was in keeping with Sulla’s “pro-senatorial policies that the Senate House should stand in this dominating position, in view of the whole Forum and above the Comitium...and the open square”[7]. Of the reconstructed Curia, Stambaugh writes, “This was the Curia in which many of Cicero’s speeches were delivered, where debates over the fate of Catiline or the distribution of commands were held”[8]. Cicero himself said of the Curia Hostilia, “[It] is the mighty protection of all nations” and “the shrine of holiness and majesty and wisdom and statesmanship, the very center of the city’s life”[9]. Cicero’s comments emphasize the preeminence of the Curia at this time.


The Curia Julia

In 44 BC Julius Caesar tore down Faustus’ reconstructed Curia in order to make way for his own Forum [10]. However, the work on Caesar’s new forum was interrupted by his assassination in that same year. The project was eventually completed by Caesar’s adopted son Augustus in 29 BC[11].

From AD 81 to 96 the Curia Julia was restored under Domitian. In AD 283, this Curia was destroyed by the fire of emperor Carinus[12]. From AD 284 to AD 305, the Curia was then rebuilt by Diocletian. It is the remnants of Diocletian’s building that we see today. In AD 412, the Curia was restored again, this time by Urban Prefect Flavius Annius Eucharius Epiphanius.
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #33 on: July 16, 2007, 04:56:01 pm »

Domus Aurea

The Domus Aurea (Latin for "Golden House") was a large landscaped "portico villa", designed to take advantage of artificially created landscapes, rather than a monumental palace,[1] built in the heart of Ancient Rome by the Roman emperor Nero after Great fire of Rome, which devastated Rome in 64 AD, had cleared away the aristocratic dwellings on the slopes of the Esquiline Hill.



Statue of a muse in the newly reopened Domus Aurea.
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #34 on: July 16, 2007, 04:58:39 pm »

History

Construction

Built of brick and concrete in the few years between the fire and Nero's suicide in 68, the extensive gold-leaf that gave it its name was not the only extravagant element of its decor: stuccoed ceilings were applied with semi-precious stones and veneers of ivory while the walls were frescoed, coordinating the decoration into different themes in each major group of rooms.[3] Pliny the Elder watched it being built and mentions it in his Naturalis Historia.[4]

Suetonius claims this of Nero and the Domus Aurea:

When the edifice was finished in this style and he dedicated it, he deigned to say nothing more in the way of approval than that he was at last beginning to be housed like a human being.[5]
Though the Domus Aurea complex covered parts of the slopes of the Palatine, Esquiline and Caelian hills, with a man-made lake in the marshy bottomlands, the estimated size of the Domus Aurea is an approximation, as much of it has not been excavated. Some scholars place it at over 300 acres,[6] while others estimate its size to have been under 100 acres.[7] Suetonius describes the complex as "ruinously prodigal" as It included groves of trees, pastures with flocks, vineyards and an artificial lake— rus in urbe, "Countryside in the city". Nero also commissioned from the Greek Zenodorus a colossal 35.5 m (120 RF) high bronze statue of himself, the Colossus Neronis. [5] Pliny the Elder, however, puts its height at only 30.3 m (106.5 RF),[8]. The statue was placed just outside the main palace entrance at the terminus of the Via Appia[5] in a large atrium of porticoes that divided city from the private villa. [9] This statue may have represented Nero as the sun god Sol, as Pliny saw some resemblance[10]. This idea is widely accepted among scholars[11] but some are convinced that Nero was not identified with Sol while he was alive.[12] The face of the statue was modified shortly after Nero’s death during Vespasian’s reign to make it truly a statue of Sol.[12] Hadrian moved it, with the help of the architect Decrianus and 24 elephants,[13] to a position next to the Flavian Amphitheater. This building took the name "Colosseum" in the Middle Ages, after the statue nearby.

The Golden House was a party villa, as shown by the presence of 300 rooms without any sleeping quarter. Nero's own palace remained on the Quirinal Hill. Strangely, no kitchens or latrines have been rediscovered yet either.

Rooms sheathed in dazzling polished white marble were given richly varied floor plans, shaped with niches and exedras that concentrated or dispersed the daylight. There were pools in the floors and fountains splashing in the corridors. Nero took great interest in every detail of the project, according to Tacitus' Annals, and oversaw the engineer-architects, Celer and Severus, who were also responsible for the attempted navigable canal with which Nero hoped to link Misenum with Lake Avernus.

Some of the extravagances of the Domus Aurea had repercussions for the future. The architects designed two of the principal dining rooms to flank an octagonal court, surmounted by a dome with a giant central oculus to let in light.[2] It was probably the first use of a dome that was not in a temple dedicated to the gods, such as the Pantheon, and an early use of concrete construction. One innovation was destined to have an enormous influence on the art of the future: Nero placed mosaics, previously restricted to floors, in the vaulted ceilings. Only fragments have survived, but that technique was to be copied extensively, eventually ending up as a fundamental feature of Christian art: the apse mosaics that decorate so many churches in Rome, Ravenna, Sicily and Constantinople.

Celer and Severus also created an ingenious mechanism, cranked by slaves, that made the ceiling underneath the dome revolve like the heavens, while perfume was sprayed and rose petals were dropped on the assembled diners. According to some accounts, perhaps embellished by Nero's political enemies, on one occasion such quantities of rose petals were dropped that one unlucky guest was asphyxiated (a similar story is told of the emperor Elagabalus).

"Nero gave the best parties, ever," archaeologist Wallace-Hadrill told an interviewer when the Golden House was reopened to visitors in 1999 after being closed for years for restorations. "Three hundred years after his death, tokens bearing his head were still being given out at public spectacles - a memento of the greatest showman of them all." Nero, who was obsessed with his status as an artist, certainly regarded parties as works of art.

Frescoes covered every surface that wasn't more richly finished. The main artist was one Famulus (or Fabulus according to some sources). Fresco technique, working on damp plaster, demands a speedy and sure touch: Famulus and his studio covered a spectacular amount of area. Pliny, in his Natural History, recounts how Famulus went for only a few hours each day to the Golden House, to work while the light was right. The swiftness of Famulus's execution gives a wonderful unity to his compositions and astonishing delicacy to their execution.

Pliny the Elder presents Amulius[15] as one of the principal painters of the domus aurea.

“ More recently, lived Amulius, a grave and serious personage, but a painter in the florid style. By this artist there was a Minerva, which had the appearance of always looking at the spectators, from whatever point it was viewed. He only painted a few hours each day, and then with the greatest gravity, for he always kept the toga on, even when in the midst of his implements. The Golden Palace of Nero was the prison-house of this artist's productions, and hence it is that there are so few of them to be seen elsewhere." [16] (Chap 37, p.6272)

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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #35 on: July 16, 2007, 05:00:34 pm »



The Domus Aurea still lies under the ruins of the Baths of Trajan (shown here) and the surrounding park.

Damnatio memoriae



After Nero's death, the Golden House was a severe embarrassment to his successors. It was stripped of its marble, its jewels and its ivory within a decade. Soon after Nero’s death, the palace and grounds, encompassing 2.6 km² (c. 1 mi²), were filled with earth and built over: the Baths of Titus were already being built on part of the site in 79 AD. On the site of the lake, in the middle of the palace grounds, Vespasian built the Flavian Amphitheatre, which could be reflooded at will, with the Colossus Neronis beside it.[2] The Baths of Trajan[2], and the Temple of Venus and Rome were also built on the site. Within 40 years, the Golden House was completely obliterated, buried beneath the new constructions, but paradoxically this ensured the wallpaintings' survival by protecting them from the damp.
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« Reply #36 on: July 16, 2007, 05:01:54 pm »



Evidence of algae damage, February 2007
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« Reply #37 on: July 16, 2007, 05:02:39 pm »

Renaissance

When a young Roman inadvertently fell through a cleft in the Aventine hillside at the end of the 15th century, he found himself in a strange cave or grotta filled with painted figures. Soon the young artists of Rome were having themselves let down on boards knotted to ropes to see for themselves. The fourth style frescoes that were uncovered then have faded to pale gray stains on the plaster now, but the effect of these freshly-rediscovered grottesche[17] decorations was electrifying in the early Renaissance, which was just arriving in Rome. When Pinturicchio, Raphael and Michelangelo crawled underground and were let down shafts to study them, carving their names on the walls to let the world know they had been there, the paintings were a revelation of the true world of antiquity. Beside the graffiti signatures of later tourists, like Casanova and the Marquis de Sade scratched into a fresco inches apart (British Archaeology June 1999), are the autographs of Domenico Ghirlandaio, Martin van Heemskerck, and Filippino Lippi [1].

It was even claimed that various classical artworks found at this time - such as the Laocoön and his Sons and Venus Kallipygos - were found within or near the Domus's remains, though this is now accepted as unlikely (high quality artworks would have been removed - to the Temple of Peace, for example - before the Domus's demolition).

The frescoes's effect on Renaissance artists was instant and profound (it can be seen most obviously in Raphael's decoration for the loggias in the Vatican), and the white walls, delicate swags, and bands of frieze — framed reserves containing figures or landscapes — have returned at intervals ever since, notably in late 18th century Neoclassicism, making Fabullus one of the most influential painters in the history of art.

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« Reply #38 on: July 16, 2007, 05:03:30 pm »

20th century to present

But discovery meant letting in moisture - and that started the slow, inevitable process of decay. Heavy rain was blamed in the collapse of a chunk of ceiling.[18]

Increasing concerns about the condition of the building and the safety of visitors resulted in it being closed again at the end of 2005, for further restoration work. The complex was partially reopened on February 6, 2007.

According to the current administrative division of the center of Rome, it is placed in rione Monti.
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« Reply #39 on: July 16, 2007, 05:05:22 pm »

Hypocaust


A hypocaust is an ancient Roman system of central heating. The word literally means "heat from below", from the Greek hypo meaning below or underneath, and kaiein, to burn or light a fire. They are traditionally considered to have been invented by Sergius Orata, though this is not fully confirmed.

Hypocausts were used for heating public baths and private houses. The floor was raised off the ground by pillars, called pilae stacks, and spaces were left inside the walls so that the hot air and smoke from the furnace (praefurnium) would pass through these enclosed areas and out of flues in the roof, thereby heating but not polluting the interior of the room. Rooms requiring the most heat were placed closest to the furnace, whose heat could be increased by adding more wood. It was labour-intensive to run a hypocaust as it required constant attention to tend the fire, so it was only the wealthy that could afford to have it.

A derivation of hypocaust, the gloria, had been in use in Castile until the arrival of modern heating. After the fuel (straw, paper, refuse) has been reduced to ashes, the air intake is closed to keep hot air inside and slow combustion.


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« Reply #40 on: July 16, 2007, 05:06:23 pm »



Caldarium from the Roman Baths at Bath, England. The floor has been removed to reveal the empty spaces which the hot air would flow through.
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« Reply #41 on: July 16, 2007, 05:07:25 pm »



Ruins of the hypocaust under the floor of a Roman villa. The part under the exedra is covered.
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« Reply #42 on: July 16, 2007, 05:09:25 pm »



Detail of flues in a Roman wall.

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« Reply #43 on: July 16, 2007, 05:13:03 pm »



Partially intact hypocaust floor at Bignor Roman Villa.
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« Reply #44 on: July 16, 2007, 05:14:10 pm »



Partially intact hypocaust floor at Bignor Roman Villa.
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