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Ancient Rome:
Roman Art History
The Ancient Roman World
Why Study the Romans?
 The Romans borrowed many things from the Greeks before them,
including the arts.
 Many of today’s surviving Greek art pieces are actually Roman
copies made by Greek and Roman artists
 The Romans also gave us the system of government known as
“Republicanism”
 They also made many of their own artistic and technological
innovations, most notably the arch, which allowed them to create
tunnels, domes and aqueducts
 The Romans also invented a stronger form of concrete, which
allowed them to build larger structures
Why Study Roman Art?
 Because ancient Rome has passed on many artistic
traditions used for thousands of years AND still used today.
 Most notably, churches continue to reflect Roman
architectural innovations
It should be noted that Roman
society began to flourish even as
the Greeks entered their “Golden
Age”
Timeline
GREEKS
950 – 650 BC
Geometric and Orientalizing Period
ROMANS
475 - 323 BC
Classical Period
650 - 475 BC
Archaic Period
27 BC - 14 AD
Augustan Period
509 - 27 BC
Roman Republic
27 BC - 393 AD
Roman Empire
The Roman Republic:
Architecture
 Notice the Ionic columns
used in this building
 The Temple of Portunus (10050 BC) is an example of
architecture from the Roman
Republic period
 It continued to use the Greek
post and lintel system
 This building was very similar
to the temples being built in the
Greek world
The Post and Lintel System
 The
Post and Lintel system of
the Greeks was limited in the
weight that it could support and
the distance it could span
The Arch
 The invention of the arch
by the Romans was a
major leap forward in
architecture
 The advantage of the arch
was that it could bear more
weight above it by
transmitting the load
around and down to the
piers
 It could span a greater
distance between the piers
Examples of the Roman Arch
The Arch Cont’d
 The invention of the arch made it possible for buildings
to also feature tunnels and domes
 An arch extended
forms a barrel vault
(or tunnel vault)
 Two barrel vaults intersecting  An arch rotated around a
at right angles form a groin
fixed point to form a dome
vault
The Arch Cont’d
 The Aqua Appia was the first
Roman aqueduct
 It was constructed in 312 BC
 It was one of the earliest
Roman architectural examples to
make use of the arch
 Buildings featuring the arch really began to flourish during the
Roman Empire period (27 BC – 393 AD)
What is an Aqueduct?
 Ancient Rome had eleven major
aqueducts, built between 312 BC and 226
AD
 It has been calculated that when Rome’s
population was well over a million, the
distribution system was able to provide
over one cubic meter of water per day for
each inhabitant: more than we are
accustomed to use nowadays
 Aqueducts were man-made conduits for
carrying water
 Simply put, aqueducts were used to
conduct a water stream across a hollow
or valley and provide citizens with water for
daily use
Concrete
 All this was possible because the Romans invented a more efficient
type of concrete
 Although invented much before the Romans, the Romans came up
with a mixture that was stronger and more durable
 With the addition of pozzolan ash from a nearby volcano, the
Romans were able to create a concrete that was light weight, dried
slower, and could be formed in wet weather
 Concrete allowed the Romans to create larger structures and more
elaborate buildings
 This is why larger buildings, domes, aqueducts and theatres could
be built by the Romans
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