Ancient Roman Architecture
When you consider that the Roman Empire was at its peak well over 2000 years ago, their architectural history is quite astounding. Despite having none of the modern tools the world has today, the Romans were able to create buildings and fortifications that have stood the test of time, and that serve several important purposes. Their amphitheaters could hold up to 70,000 people to watch bloody gladiator fights. Their military fortifications stretched for dozens of miles, protecting the Empire from invaders. Roman architecture was not just impressive in terms of structure, the more opulent buildings were also beautifully decorated using Mosaic and murals. Some buildings are still standing today.
The Roman Aphitheaters
The Roman amphitheaters were large oval shaped arenas where spectators from all corners of society would go to watch gladiator fights. In the center, the gladiators and animals would fight with each other, while those highest in society would sit directly in front of them, protected by their slightly elevated height. The amphitheaters would seat people according to their social standing in Roman society. The higher up the amphitheater an individual was, the lower down in Roman society they were. Initially, these amphitheaters began life as simple structure made from wood. When gladiator fights increased in popularity, large concrete structures were made. The most notable example of an amphitheater that can be seen today is
the Colosseum, in Rome.
Ancient Roman Housing
The Romans pioneered some of the most significant developments in housing, many of which are used in modern housing today. For example, Roman settlements in colder climates in northern France and Britain included houses with underfloor heating. In addition to this, Roman architecture formed Insulae, which were apartment blocks consisting of apartments that met a variety of needs. In Pompeii in Italy, there is evidence that the Romans managed to develop plumbing in their houses. It is also the Romans that developed the use of colorful murals to decorate homes. While this housing was advanced, it did not come without its perils. By 70 BC, fires had become so frequent in Insulae that the Emperor Nero passed legislation preventing them from being built too high.
Common Ancient Roman Architecture Features
The material most commonly used in Roman architecture during the ancient times was concrete. Initially, marble was a common feature. However, once the Romans realized that concrete could allow them to make a wider variety of structures, they began using it more. During ancient Roman times, architecture developed from being conventional, to more daring. One of the most daring features of Roman architecture was the use of arches as a supporting structure.