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Chapter 4

Roman Architecture

Arches, Barrel Vaults, Groin Vaults, Domes, Concrete

Roman Architecture, with its Arches, Barrel Vaults, Groin Vaults, Domes, and the use of Concrete will be discussed. We shall begin with Etruscan precedents and basic building types, such as City walls and fortifications, including engineering of bridges and aqueducts, houses, tombs, and temples. Then the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, and its impact upon not only Pompeii, but also the nearby city of Herculaneum. In Rome, we will look at the Palantine Hill, the Forum, Arches of Triumph – notably those of Titus, Septimus Severus, and Constantine. The Colosseum and Pantheon will be described, as will the ubiquitous S.P.Q.R. From Rome we will go on to various colonies established by the Caesars, beginning with Nimes, France, and the Pont du Gard, as well as a favorite of our own Thomas Jefferson – the Maison Carrée, seemingly responsible for the “classical” architecture of most of the governmental buildings in the United States. Our next stop will be Split, in what is now Croatia, and the Palace of Diocletian. From there to Sicily once again, and the city of Taormina, with its Roman Theatre and Roman use of bricks. We end our Roman odyssey with a discussion of the Goths, Lombards, and Vandals who essentially took over the Roman Empire.

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