Architecture Of Ancient Roman Empire Essay, Research Paper
Architecture of the ancient Roman Empire is considered one of the most impressive of all time. The city of Rome once was home to more than one million residents in the early centuries. The Romans had a fine selection of building monuments in the city of Rome including the forums for civic services, temples of worship, and amphitheaters for recreation and play. The Romans made great use and pioneered great architecture mechanisms including arches, columns, and even mechanical elements in pulleys and early elevators. However, when one tends to think of great buildings, one building stands out in Rome. This building is the Flavian Amphitheatre, or better Known as the Coliseum.
The Coliseum is the greatest standing building of Rome, and one of the most recognized worldwide architectural achievements to this day. The amphitheater is a type of architecture that was without Greek precedents. This makes sense since its primary purpose was to hold gladitiator fights and brutal shows which were banned in Athens at the time. Such events held in Roman amphitheaters were horseracing, gymnastics, mock cavalry battles, footraces, prizefighting, wrestling, fights between animals, between men, animals and men, and even naumachiae, or mock sea battles. The great building although fitting and plain in design to its surroundings of Rome still stood out due to its sheer monstrosity and oval shape. Although the site viewed today is still a marvel, back in the days of its prime it was a spectacular site that would be difficult to apprehend with only words.
The emperor given credit for the idea of the coliseum was Vespasian. Building commenced around 72 AD. But Vespian would not live to see his greatest accomplishment finished. Titus, Vespasian’s son, completed his fathers dream around 80 AD. The dedication of the Coliseum was a lavish gladiator show that lasted for exactly one hundred days in which over nine thousand animals were killed.
A typical day at the Coliseum show usually started with a bloodless comic relief battle, often times with dwarfs, women, or cripples battling with wooden objects. The gladiator fights were the most popular and prominent fights. These featured two highly trained men battling for courage, strength, and dignity. They would often rather take a blow and stand strong than whimper and run in defense. It is written that famous women would even leave their husbands for famous gladiators, which were known to be very scarred and ugly by Roman standards. The gladiator fight was a ruthless blood-ridden spectacle that usually ended in death by the loser who begged for mercy and was chosen to die by the present emperor or crowd. Some gladiators fought lions, tigers, bears, and bulls which brought many animals to near extinction in the
surrounding areas. Perhaps the most interesting of all events held were the mock sea battles. The Romans were famous for running water in their architecture, and this allowed them to flood the battlefield and hold mock sea battles.
Some of the technology employed at the time of this building is very similar to today’s buildings of similar uses for games. For instance there were 76 entrance gates of the 80 piers. The latter four were used for emperors and gladiators. The entrance gates were numbered and corresponded to numbers stamped on the fan’s tickets much like today’s sporting events. With 80 gates one could easily maneuver to their correct gate. In the ground floor contained an intricate labyrinth of cells which housed the gladiators, animals, and workers. There were splendid uses of machinery in which to lift the gladiator or animal to the surface of the battle arena. But the most amazing construction at the Coliseum had nothing to do with the show. It was designed purely for the benefit of the audience, to keep them calm and content as the violent spectacle unfolded below. It was a roof. The roof of the Coliseum was one that was retractable and much like a sail. So much in fact, sailors who lived in a nearby town managed the velarium, or colored awning. This was a remarkable feat considering that most stadiums now days are still not fully enclosed. It is believed that it did not cover the whole structure, but most of the spectators were covered for a portion of the day.
Hebrew prisoners and slaves of the time employed the building of the Coliseum. All the details of the actual construction are unknown, but it is based upon a barrel-vaulted scheme that circles around. The builders used tavertine blocks to construct a framework of piers, arches, and linked walls and vaults. The cement posts go deep into the ground to support the great weight. The lower level vaults were constructed of tufa or pumice. On the upper floors the walls were built with brick and concrete. Travertine was used to surround the outside and was held in place by iron clamps.
To get inside one must enter their gate, and proceed up the stairway to the designated level much like a modern stadium. Inside the Coliseum the arena floor was wooden and covered with sand to soak up the blood. There was a great podium made of marble on the sidelines which housed the dignitaries. Above that were marble seats for distinguished private citizens. The second held the middle class, the third held slaves and foreigners, and the fourth levels were for women and the poor who sat on wooden seats The arches allowed for great ventilation, stability, and passageways to keep the crowd comfortable all day.
One of the first natural changes of the Coliseum came in 320 when lightning struck and damaged the building. In 422 it was damaged by an earthquake. However, Theodosius II and Valentitian III repaired it only to be again damaged by an earthquake in 508. After the sixth century the city of Rome and the Coliseum went downhill because of devastating disasters.
The influence of Greek and Etruscan architecture makes the Coliseum stand out among other buildings of Rome. The dream of the emperor vespian came true and the coliseum still stands today as a monument of the achievements of the great Roman Empire.
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