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Imperial Rome (300 BC - 400 AD)

Origins --- Belief System --- Political Situation --- Roman Architecture

The Arch-----

Triumphal Arch --- Arch of Titus --- Arch of Septemus Severus--- Orange
Temples ---- Maison Carree _--Temple of Minerva_--Pantheon__
Amphitheaters -----Coliseum----Nimes--Arles---Syracuse---Merida--Martigny

-_Theaters--- Merida --- Vaison la Romaine--- Orange
Villas---- Hadrian _--Vaison la Romainee_--__
Aquaducts -----Pont du Gard----Rome--Merida---Maro---


The Roman Empire (200 BC. - 476 AD) was the largest empire in antiquity. At its height, it covered 2,300,000 square miles (5,900,00 km2), from Scotland in the North, Portugal in the West, the countries across north Africa the south and the Caspian Sea in the East. Subsequent political figures in the West such as Napoleon and King Henry VIII of England, assumed the title of Holy Roman Emperor, this being the pinnacle of success in the west. The Emperor's all powerful control was religious as well as military.

The legendary origins of Rome involve the illustrious but illicit union of Mars the God of War and a Vestal Virgin (Vestal Virgins were the goddesses of the hearth, cloistered in a well protected villa in order to keep the sacred fire burning) and the subsequent rescue of their abandoned twin sons by a she-wolf whose bronze statue today stands on the Capitoline Hill, the spot where one of the twins, Romulus, founded the city. There was a town on the site of Rome as early as 600 BC, but the real action started in 510 BC when the citizens of Rome expelled the Etruscan kings and started their massive takeover of Italy, the Mediterranean, and eventually the rest of Europe.

Belief System

The primary Gods in Greece were Athena, goddess of wisdom, fertility, the useful arts, and prudence, and Apollo, god of light, healing, music, poetry, prophecy, and manly beauty. These were adapted by the early Etruscans and later the Romans. The Romans recast the Greek Gods for their own purposes, renaming many of them while retaining the basic hierarchy. Dionysius became Bacchus, Athena became Minerva, Zeus became Jupiter, Hermes became Mercury, and other Gods were added to the roster when needed. These Gods remain an integral part of Western culture as they leant their names to the planets (Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, etc.) and the calendar (March for Mars, June for Juno, etc.).

Romans were mostly pagan, worshipping their version of the Greek God hierarchy. The Jewish religion was well established, and the Christian religion was growing slowly as one of many smaller cults active in the Roman Empire in the first centuries AD. It was not until the 4th century when Christianity became the official religion.

Parts of the Christian calendar - Easter, advent - are based on the existing pagan celebrations.

Political Situation

The Roman Empire was largely centered on Rome, but the Emperors were frequently located outside of Rome, in other areas of Italy as well as Turkey (Constantinople) and France (Avignon) during the times of plague and political unrest.

Following is a partial list of Roman Emperors. Only those named within the text, or whose contribution to architectural history are included.

Julius Caesar 54 BC stabbed to death by republicans
Caesar Octavius 54 -27 BC - prophesied by gods to be the emperor became Augustus for Pax Romana
Caesar Augustus 27 - 14 AD
Tiberius 14 - 37 AD
Vespasian 69 - 79 AD
Titus 79 - 81
Trajan 98 - 117
Hadrian 117 - 138

Septimius Severus 193 - 211

Diocletian 285 - 305

Constantine 306 - 337 - legally sanctioned Christian worship

The names are important with regard to patronage.

Roman Architecture

At first glance the Romans seem to have simply copied the external trappings of Greek architecture; the columns, orders and proportions are very similar. While Greek architecture was largely exterior, porches and temples opening up onto the landscape, Roman architecture was the architecture of empire. The attitudes and trappings of supremacy lead to an unprecedented serge in engineering advancements. Roman architecture achieved a prowess and competence not found again in Europe until the seventeenth and even up to the nineteenth centuries.

Greek architecture is an expression of the cultural search for harmony with the universe. In contrast, the Romans were hard-nosed, practical people who excelled in engineering, administration and the development of laws. They acknowledged the existence of the celestial spheres, but were more concerned with the domination of the physical spheres in their immediate surroundings and the new territories they conquered.

Arches, Vaults and Domes

The availability of natural compressive materials explains why our ancestors built arch bridges and arched roofs over 2500 years ago.

The earliest example of an arch was in Egypt in 2500 BC. The earliest example of tenements was 2000 BC, some of which were ten stories high.

The development of vault and arch construction in cut stone, brick and concrete was perhaps the Roman architect's greatest contribution to the evolution of building. Concrete was well known to the Romans, but the addition of Pozzolano, a cement that was more flexible, stronger, and had a longer curing time, was significant in allowing for larger expanses of concrete than had ever before been possible.

To construct the arches they erected circular wooden scaffolds or centering. The arch was started simultaneously from both ends of the centering. Wedge shaped blocks or voussoirs were placed side by side until the keystone was wedged between the two top adjoining blocks thus completing the semicircle. The centering would then be removed since the arch, once completed, was self sufficient as can be seen in the examples from Volubulis and Cologne below.

The semicircular arch when stretched becomes a vault, and when rotated becomes a dome. Using compressive materials, concrete, and marble for facing, the arch and its variations forms the basis of much of the best Roman architecture.

Roman Arch

The semicircular or Roman arch has its center on the springline as shown in the illustration.

The keystone is the last piece to be added to the arch and keeps it together. The expression "key to my heart" comes from the keystone which holds that whole structure together.

The span of the arch is the diameter, emphasized by the of the intrados. Both the intrados and the extrados can be decorated, as can the impost moulding. In Roman architecture, most of the decoration is Greek, the impost is often in the form of a column capital and is usually Corinthian.

Roman Arch - Semi-Circular

Arch from Volubilis

This arch found in at the site of the Roman town of Volubilis, Morocco, is constructed with a series of wedge shaped voussoirs. As can be seen, the voussoirs are thinner at the bottom edge than at the top. If this were not so, the arch would not be structurally sound.

It is probable that these were the original voussoirs placed by the Romans in this town some 1900 years ago. The arch is about 10 meters (30 feet)off the ground.


Arch from Cologne

Another colony built originally by the Romans is the city of Cologne. By 50 AD the Romans had built a fortified town along the Rhine. This arch was part of the North Gate. There are many fewer stones than in the example from Volubilis, and the stones here are a great deal larger. The arch is not as high, however, being only two marts (seven feet) off the ground.

Cologne keystone voussoir

Triumphal Arches

Rome's relentless rise to supremacy was reaching its zenith by the first century BC when the Mediterranean truly was the sea at the center of the world, and Rome was the center of this world.

Traveling around Europe, you can see roads, bridges, and aqueducts and tunnels, sewers, and vast building centers created by the Romans and so well built that they remain intact today. Hadrian's Wall separates England from Scotland and originally signaled the northern edge of the Roman Empire. The Scottish were among the few peoples undefeated.

In Greece, the buildings were sited in response to the natural environment, in mystical communion with the contours of the place. In Roman building the idea is planned space enclosed by architecture. There is more concern for total design, awe-inspiring set pieces that demonstrate imperial power. No building expresses this power more than the Triumphal Arch, constructed to celebrate a victory of the Romans. The arch would be completed by the emperor's return, and a great celebration would accompany the procession through the Triumphal Arch. The structures helped to solidify the cult of the Roman Emperor as supreme being.

Arch of Titus

Triumphal Arches or
Monumental Arches first occur about 200 BC but most are from the time of Augustus (31 BC - 14 AD) or later. Arches were constructed by emperors and generals to commem- orate victorious campaigns. Consequently they were adorned with bas-reliefs, dedicatory inscriptions, and often gilt-bronze statuary that reflected the campaign. Most bronze work has since been removed by subsequent emperors and generals to provide ammunition for their victorious campaigns.

The Arch of Titus and the Arch of Septimus Severus are the two terminal points of the Via Sacra in Rome.


Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus - North (evening)

Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus is notable because it is a single arch. The engaged columns on the Arch of Titus are the first known examples of the Roman Composite Order.

Arches are not so much advertising as historical journalism. The reliefs and inscriptions document the triumphs of the Emperor in the way that best reflected the glory of the empire. The span had to be wide and grand enough to allow a victorious army to march through in procession between cheering crowds, driving before them carts laden with booty from their exploits, and prisoners in chains. This arch commemorates the capture of Jerusalem.

Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus Relief

This relief illustrates the emperor Titus in a triumphal chariot returning from a successful campaign in Jerusalem. Riding with him is the allegorical figure of Victory. Illustrated on the facing relief are the spoils of the Temple of Jerusalem including a seven branched candelabrum. The Roman Empire tolerated other religions only so far as they were quiet and unobtrusive. A challenge to authority was not tolerated.

Arch of Titus

Arch of Septimus Severus

This arch was dedicated to the Emperor Septimus Severus. Unlike the engaged columns on the Arch of Titus, these columns, in the Composite style, are detached and rest on their own pedestals on the piers that support the three arches. The arch is constructed of white marble.

This arch celebrates the victory of the Parthian campaigns. Parthia was a huge empire that existed from the Caspian Sea down to the Persian gulf.



Arch of Septimius Severus Composite Keystone Base

__Arch of Tiberius __30 BC Orange__

Orange was an important center for the Romans, having a triumphal arch and a large theater, among other things. It is located in the center of Provence, France, a temperate climate with surrounding fertile growing areas.

This arch was built in 30 BC under the reign of Caesar Octavius. Tiberius took over in 14 AD and added his name to the inscription in 25 AD.

This arch has triple openings and three quarter Corinthian columns along the front and back. It has a double attic above a large cornice and central pediment. Bas reliefs decorate a large portion of it.


__Arch of Tiberius __30 BC Orange__

The arch commemorates the Roman victory over the Celts. On the attic story is a frieze with depictions of the battle itself. A band of egg and dart and a decorative cornice crown the scenes of slaughter and mayhem. Knives, swords, and shields are seen along with the fighting and the fallen.


Releif on Arch in Orange

Arch of Tiberius
__30 BC - Orange_

The side view is astonishing for the time in that it shows a broken pediment, not seen in Europe until the Baroque era.

There are four Corinthian columns on each side. Above the columns is an entablature that has been broken out between the central two columns to receive a false arch in a broken pediment.

This arch celebrates a victory over the Celts, and there is Celtic symbolism along the top of the arch.


Triumphal Arch

__Arch of Tiberius __30 BC Orange_

The intrados is decorated with sextagonal coffers.

During the middle ages, the arch was used as part of a public housing complex. Several houses were built on, around, and within the arches, using the arches both for bracing and for shelving and heating. The small 'nicks' on the sides of the pier could have been used for ceiling rafters.



__Arch of Tiberius __30 BC Orange_

Further down on the inside of the arch there is more evidence of subsequent use.

On the right we can see a niche carved into the side of the soft limestone pier that was used as a fireplace, a chimney vent is on the back.

The small regular holes were either holes for ceiling joists or, possibly, a dove cote. Doves and pigeons were kept for many centuries for eating as well as for taking messages from one village to another.


__Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

This triumphal arch was designed after the arch of Septimus Severus in Rome to commemorate Napoleon's victories in Ulm and Austerlitz some 1700 years later. Both battles are depicted in bas reliefs Note that the attic story is adorned with a bronze and gold sculptural group by F.J. Bosio (1768 - 1853) much like the Arch of Septimus Severus would have been.

This arch was constructed in Paris on the Place du Carroussel which separates the Gardens of the Tuilleries and the Louvre. It was dedicated in the year 1808. The architects for the monument were Charles Percier (1764 - 1838) and F.L. Fontaine (1762-1853).

Paris - Arch de Triomphe du Carrousel

__Odessa Ontario _

"Blow out your bugles over the rich dead.

There's none of these so lonely and poor of old

But dying has made us rarer gifts than gold."

Even in Odessa Canada the triumphal arch is the way to commemorate the victories of war. This monument to the victory of the allies in W.W.II makes tribute to those who lost their lives in the war.

This arch is much different than the Roman Triumphal arch being adorned with medallions and large blockwork. There are, however, dentils (Ionic) and triglyphs and metopes (Doric) which are Greek motifs.




Roman temples began as an amalgamation of Etruscan and Greek. The major difference between early Roman temples and Greek temples is that, once again, the Greek temple was situated in a spot within the landscape that acknowledged both eh view and the natural flow of the land. Roman temples are situated within the city grid with little or no appreciation for the view or the environment.

Temples are found throughout the Roman Empire and some, like the Maison Carrée, are still remarkably intact.

The temple that most represents the Roman culture is the Pantheon in Rome.

The proportions that the Greeks worked out over many centuries to produce the perfect column, both in height and diameter, as well as the most pleasing distance between the columns, was taken up and codified by the Vitruvius who wrote the first treatise on architecture De Architectura, around 27 BC. This may not be the only book on architecture, but it is the only one that has survived.

The books discuss a wide variety of subjects from bridge construction to brick manufacture, but the most important section for the student of architecture is the concise account of heights, distances, diameters, and lengths that were used by the Romans and that give Roman building their elegance and lasting beauty.

Temple of Saturn - Rome

Many Roman religious buildings are replicas of Greek temples. The first Temple of Saturn, probably wooden, was built on this site in 483 BC. It was replaced by a newer stone temple in 42 BC. That second temple burnt during the fire of 483, and re- constructed under Diocletian.

Only a portion of the portico remains in the original site above the Via Sacra in Rome. The red and gray granite columns have Ionic capitals but have no fluting.


Temple of Saturn

Maison Carrée
Nimes France-

The Maison Carrée in Nimes - Provence France is the best preserved Greek style Roman temple. It is currently being cleaned to restore it to the original colour.

The temple has a cella decorated with engaged columns. The porch has six Corinthian columns along the front, a large stylobate, and a pediment with raking cornices. It is built along the plan of the Temples of Fortuna Virilis, Rome .


Maison Carree Nimes

Maison Carrée

Along the west end of the cella the cleaning is almost finished. You can see the detailed carving along the cornices with modillions along the under side.

It is a typical Corinthian entablature with three fascia bands on the bottom of the architrave. The frieze is decorated with a series of floral designs intertwined in vines. Above this is a small band of dentils.

The capitals are Corinthian with very small leaf shaped volutes, acanthus leaves and a prominent central rosette..


Maison Carree Nimes

Temple of Minerva Merida - Spain

The porch in the Temple of Minerva in Merida is still intact but the cella is not. Some of the engaged columns are still in place, and you can see how a subsequent building has been built around them, making use of them but leaving the capitals fully external.

Merida is on the far west border of Spain. Nearby there are aqueducts and there is a large theater and amphitheater just a few blocks away from this temple.


Temple of Minerva

Temple of Minerva Merida Spain

The arch above the cornice where the pediment would normally be is probably a discharging arch, used to support the pediment and the roof and displace the load from them to the two central columns. Note that spring of the arch is directly above the two central columns. This construction technique would not have been used by the Greeks.

Temple of Minerva

Temple of Minerva Merida Spain

The capitals on the columns are the same style as those in Nimes, but the central rosette is larger and the acanthus leaves, worn down over time, are less refined. The corners above the tiny volutes are also much larger. In this view you can see how the columns are composed of a series of blocks cut with fluting later.

Temple of Minerva flute flute flute acanthus volute


The word pantheon means a collection or group of importance, usually Gods, so this, the best preserved monument of ancient Rome, was a temple to all the Gods, originally dedicated to the deities of the seven planets.

It was built by Hadrian in the year 120. Bronze stars originally adorned the inside of each coffer. It was faced with marble on the outside, the dome was covered in gold tiles. All, of course, gone now.

At 45 meters (142' 6") wide it remained the largest dome until the 19th century. The core is concrete and brick, 23 feet thick.



The brick on the outside has Hadrian's stamp, proving that he was the patron if not the designer. The name of Marcus Agrippa, his successor, is shown on the architrave.

The emperors took credit for all things done under their rule, including art, architecture and written work. Occasionally there will be a name attached to a work, but generally the emperor's is the name attached.

The rotunda is made of concrete with aggregate and Pozzolana cement. Since the necessary strength and weight diminishes with the height, the aggregate content is subtly varied as the wall rises.


Pantheon Proportions

Like the Greeks, Roman engineers and architects believed that geometry, when applied to buildings, could achieve a quality that was almost divine. The square, the triangle and the circle were the basic shapes used in design.

The interior space of the Pantheon is a sphere. The coffers on the ceiling emphasize the perspective and disappear towards the occulus which is open to the sky.


Pantheon Interior

While the outside of the Pantheon has been stripped of all its original finishes, the inside remains intact and is a glorious mixture of coloured marbles, carved and inlaid, from the various corners of the empire. The use of space and the effect of standing in the midst of a sphere amplifies the sense of wonder about the planets and the possibility of worlds beyond our own. It is no wonder that many prominent Renaissance figures aspired to being buried here. Raphael, Annibale Carracci and Baldassare Peruzzi were among the successful candidates.

The emphasis on interior decoration is in direct contrast to the Greek temple which was designed to be looked at from the outside.

Palace of KNossus


Roman temples are largely based on Greek models. The major difference is that the Roman temples are incorporated into the city while the Greek are situated outside the city walls in places where the view becomes part of the experience.

Similarly Greek theaters were situated in natural dells which offered spectacular views of the sea. Many Roman theaters, such as those in Vaison la Romaine and Syracuse, also make use of the natural dells, but where these are not available, the Romans placed them where they wanted them. More often than not, both theaters and amphitheaters were situated in the center of town, the structures being imposed on the site as opposed to fitting into it.

Violence was not unknown in Greek theater, but it was less common and not the major driving force. Roman entertainment was quite the opposite. The stage theaters provided comedies and tragedies as well as music while the amphitheaters were for more athletic displays including races, combats, fights and executions. The Romans found many inventive ways to slaughter animals, slaves, gladiators, and members of the non-pagan religious sects such as Jews and Christians. Christian saints such as Perpetua and Daniel achieved their sainthood in the Roman arena.

Today many of the Roman theaters and amphitheaters are still used for events ranging from bull fights to opera and pop concerts.

Coliseum 70 - 82 AD

The coliseum in Rome is the most well known of the Roman amphitheaters. It was built for Vespasian in about 75 AD.

The Greeks used their theaters for drama, and then later for comedy. The Romans required theaters for these same types of plays, then amphitheaters for fights between men and animals with hairpin shaped arenas where they could race their chariots with or without knives on the wheel rims to cut their opponents legs.

Characteristic of Roman architecture are non-structural columns as shown here. If columns are squared off and flattened they are called pilasters. Both the columns and the pilasters on the exterior of the coliseum are largely decorative, the weight of the structure is carried on the arch pillars.



The Coliseum holds between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. The gates and seats are all numbered , and the organization of the seating is very similar to what we use today.

Emperor Honorius in 404 AD abolished by edict the gladiators. The building was still used for animal slaughter until the 6th century AD. The word arena comes from the Latin word for sand. The floors of all these arenas were covered with sand to soak up the blood of the dying combatants.


Coliseum Interior

5,000 animals are said to have been killed during the opening games alone. A corresponding number of gladiators died.

Below stage, cages and detainment areas for beasts, criminals, Jews and Christians were provided by passageways closed by port-cullis gates. Mechanical lifts and ramps were used to bring performers up to the arena floor. The place where the combatants and actors arrived onto the stage from beneath is called a vomitorium.

Colosseum Floor


The building is constructed of travertine and tufa. Much of the external marble was stolen over the centuries by popes and men of business who felt that the marble would better suit their own palaces.

The structure was worked out by the Romans, but the decoration was still Greek. Doric order on the ground floor, Ionic on the second, Corinthian or Composite on the third floor and pilasters running along the top storey. Renaissance builders found this a very pleasing mixture and this can be found on many buildings across Europe.

The building was conceived as a web of circulation passageways that allow easy access and exit, so the auditorium could be quickly cleared in case of fire.



Passageways around the exterior are called ambulatories. They shows the structure of the annular vaulted ceiling as well as the mass of the pillars.




ambulatory Impost Impost pillar

---Nimes - France --- 1 AD-

Amphitheaters are a typical Roman building type, not found in Greek centers. They provide an insight into the Roman temperament and character; the players are more concerned with combat than acting: good training for warriors.

Gladiatorial combats had their origin in funerary rites connected with human sacrifice. Nimes was used primarily for gladiator combat. The gladiators were often taken from the slave population.

Amphitheatre Nimes

Arcade - Nimes - France

All of the arches are exits to allow for quick evacuation in case of fire. The roof over the spectator area (cavea) of the amphitheater was made of velum supported on wooden posts and stretched over the top in case of rain or to provide much needed shade in summer.

The exterior shows a design opposite to that found in the Coliseum. The lower level has pilasters and the upper storey has engaged columns.

Nimes Amphitheatre

Ambulatory - Nimes

The Amphitheater in Nimes is made of local limestone instead of the much more porous tufa used on the Coliseum. The difference can best be seen in the ambulatory. The ceiling is much higher and the span is a little smaller, and the individual stones are much more visible.

The Nimes Amphitheater predates the Coliseum, so it is quite possible that the builders of the Coliseum decided to make the ambulatories wider and the arcs less high after visiting Nimes. The population in Rome would have been much greater as well.

Nimes Amphitheatre

Arena - Nimes - France

It is a tribute to Roman Engineering skill that the amphitheater in Nimes is still used today. Many of the seats have been replaced, but the exterior arcades, the gates, and the ambulatories are as sound now as they ever were.

The arena itself is kept in fine condition for operas, pop concerts and bull fights.

Nimes Amphitheatre

Arles - France - 80 AD

Like Nimes, the amphi- theater in Arles is very well preserved and is still in use today. Both the amphitheater and the theater are undergoing a complete restoration. The stone is being cleaned and the completely destroyed areas are being replaced by stone quarried from the original sites and carved to match the existing. The next photograph was taken from the renovated area.

Like the Triumphal Arch in Orange, the amphitheater was used for many centuries as public housing.

Due to the lack of low income housing, addressed by Corbusier in the 1950s, up until the second world war the. arched areas were often boarded off and inhabited by a families and individuals in need. The public baths were an important part of city life up until the 1950s.




Arles - France

During the early Middle Ages the religious aristocracy, popes and upper bishops of Rome, were moved to Nimes, Aix En Provence and Arles to avoid the malaria that was a constant threat in Rome.

Back ups were frequent in the "not properly maintained" aqueducts, and the mosquitoes would flourish in the stagnant waters.

By the 4th century, only about 10 percent of the populace of Rome was actually of Roman origin. The others were taken from the slave population who could buy their way to freedom, and others moved to the capital from the outlying countries to take part in the more affluent lifestyle. Anyone of power and influence would have moved with the popes to Provence when they could to maintain their position within the society.


Palm Capital

Amphitheater Syracuse Sicily - 50 AD

Syracuse has the third largest amphitheater in Italy. There is an adjacent pond, used to clean the amphitheater and to fill it up with water for exhibitions of naval conflict.

The amphitheater dates from the Imperial age which was a time of geat stability. It has many terraces and promenades along the exterior. The country setting, on the plateau overlooking the city and the sea is quite extraordinary.


Merida - Spain - 15BC

The amphitheater in Merida is built into a natural hillside as opposed to being created by a series of arcades. The arena area is very large, and what is most interesting are the series of barrel vaults that open onto the arena floor.

The seating, made from local stone has not weathered as well as the entrances, but the arena is almost intact.


Amphitheatre in Merida Spain Niche

Martigny Switzerland- 41BC

There are a lot of Roman ruins in Switzerland.


Amphitheatre in Martigny Switzerland Niche

Martigny - Switzerland - 41BC



Amphitheatre in Martigny Switzerland Niche

Martigny Vomitorium



Amphitheatre in Merida Spain Niche

Roman Theaters

Roman Amphitheaters are much better known than Roman Theaters because of the bullfights, the gladiators and the extreme violence that took place there in the name of entertainment. Much of that violence should also be seen as promoting the cult of the Emperor, the all powerful ruler. The animals and human combatants were seen to be brought under control by the divine rule of the Emperor. He was in charge of every man and beasts in the land. He was also responsible for the weather which proved, on occasion, much more difficult to subdue.

Theaters were just as important for much the same reason, they promoted the Emperor and provided entertainment that kept the people happy. All Roman Theatres are built in the same format, a stage setting with a central arcaded opening and a classical façade. This stage was copied by Palladio in Vicenza during the Renaissance.

The theaters were generally within a short walking distance of the amphitheater.

Merida - Spain

The theater in Merida Spain is one of the best preserved in the world. On the stage are a series of colonades showing that this, like many other Roman buildings, has Greek proportions and orders. The Romans left matters of art to the Greeks. Settings like this that were intended to portray both dignity and power, relied heavily on Greek forms and tastes. While the external trappings are obviously borrowed from the Greeks, the layout is distinctly Roman.

Theatre merida

Merida Spain

The seating for the theatre is set, not in a natural dell, but very close to the amphitheatre so that spectacles could take place in tandem. The seats are built up and supported by a series of arches. The spectators accessed the stage through arched ticket gates.

The backdrop of Greek theatre often had columns and statues, but was not a complete set the way it is here with virtually no use being made of the natural setting.


merida theatre

Merida - Theater


Colosseum Floor

Vaison la Roman

To have a theatre of the size and quality of those shown, there would need to be a population large enough, and also sophisticated enough, to support it. Vaison la Roman in France has a huge theatre, built into a hillside, and surrounded by many luxurious and well appointed houses. Sunken gardens, statues and lovely floor mosaics can be found here in abundance.

Vaison le Roman

Vaison la Roman
100 BC - 275 AD

People occupying the thousands of seats in the theatre at Vaison la Romaine would have been able to get to the theatre over this bridge, 17 meters long (56 feet), which is still in use today.

The engineering prowess of the Romans is unequalled in history.

Vaison le Roman

Theater Orange

The theater seating at Orange is at least partly carved out of the hill.


Theatre in Orange Niche

Theater Orange



Theatre in Orange Niche


In Vitruvius's treatise on architecture, he gives advice on many things, one of these is the location of houses and villas. Because of the problems with malaria, cholera, and other diseases that are connected with water and human population, he cautions


Hadrian's Villa



Hadrian's Villa

Hadrian's Villa


Hadrian's Villa

_Caryatids Hadrians Villa_


Hadrian's Villa

Ionic Column


Ionic Column

Hadrian's Villa






Hadrian's Villa




Ceiling Detail

Hadrian's Villa


Brick Structural Detailing

Vaison la Romaine

There are many houses in the vicinity of the theatre at Vaison la Romaine that still have mosaic floors,

Vaison la Romain


Roman Aqueducts

Romans attached a real importance to their water sources which were used for bathing, cooking, and a multitude of fountains and public bathing houses.

The water was frequently channeled from sources



Pont du Gard - Province - France
(19 BC)

This is one of the real treasures of antiquity, remaining almost intact for 2000 years. The water from this bridge was directed to the city of Uzès.



Pont du Gard - Province - France
(19 BC)

The water was carried over the top arcade and was covered to prevent it from becoming dirty as well as to allow the water to be suctioned over the ridge next to it.


Pont du Gard - Province - France
(19 BC)

This is one of the real treasures of antiquity, remaining almost intact for 2000 years. The water from this bridge was directed to the city of Uzès.

The water was carried over the top arcade and was covered to prevent it from becoming dirty as well as to allow the water to be suctioned over the ridge next to it.


Aqua Claudia Rome
(38 AD)

Thisrevent it from becoming dirty as well as to allow the water to be suctioned over the ridge next to it.



This is one of the real treasures of antiquity, remaining almost intact for 2000 years. The water from this bridge was directed to the city of Uzès.

The water was carried over the top arcade and was covered to prevent it from becoming dirty as well as to allow the water to be suctioned over the ridge next to it.


Maro Portugal

This is one of the real treasures of antiquity, remaining almost intact for 2000 years. The water from this bridge was directed to the city of Uzès.

The water was carried over the top arcade and was covered to prevent it from becoming dirty as well as to allow the water to be suctioned over the ridge next to it.



The Romans Extra Reading and Films


Boorstin, Daniel, The Creators, New York : Random House, 1992

Fox, Robin Lane, Pagans and Christians, Harmondsworth, England : Viking, 1986.

Fowden, Garth, The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1993

Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume IV, London, Methuen & Co.

Krautheimer,Richard Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press, 1986.

Tarnas, Richard, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, Toronto, Penguin, 1987

Ward-Perkins, J.B. , Studies in Roman and early Christian architecture .London : Pindar Press, 1994



Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1959) - Charlton Heston

Gladiator - Russel Crow

Julius Caesar (2002) - Christopher Walken

Moses (1996) - Simon Callow

Sign of the Pagan (1954)

Solomon (2000) - Ben Cross, Anouk Aimée

The Last Days of Pompeii (1984) -Ned Beatty

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - Harvey Keitel

The Miracle Maker (2000) - Ralph Fiennes

The Mummy (1999) - Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz

The Ten Commandments (2007) - Ben Kingsley


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