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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
IX. CLASSICAL CIVILIZATION
» Contents of this ChapterPage 33
ROMAN ARCHITECTURE AND SCULPTURE
THE ARCH AND DOME IN ROMAN BUILDINGS
In architecture the Romans achieved preëminence. The temples and other public works of Greece seem almost insignificant beside the stupendous edifices raised by Roman genius in every province of the empire. The ability of the Romans to build on so large a scale arose from their use of vaulted constructions. Knowledge of the round arch passed over from the Orient to the Etruscans and from them to the Romans. At first the arch was employed mainly for gates, drainage sewers, aqueducts, and bridges. In imperial times this device was adopted to permit the construction of vast buildings with overarching domes. The principle of the dome has inspired some of the finest creations of ancient and modern architecture.
ROMAN USE OF CONCRETE AND RUBBLE
The Romans for many of their buildings made much use of concrete. Its chief ingredient was pozzolana, a sand found in great abundance near Rome and other sites. When mixed with lime, it formed a very strong cement. This material was poured in a fluid state into timber casings, where it quickly set and hardened. Small pieces of stone, called rubble, were also forced down into the cement to give it additional stability. Buildings of this sort were usually faced with brick, which in turn might be covered with thin slabs of marble, thus producing an attractive appearance.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy