1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Building Materials Used in Roman Architectural Works

(Part 66)

Building Materials Used in Roman Architectural Works

Much of the extent and magnificence of the architectural works of the Romans is attributable to their knowledge and use of the arch, which enabled them to utilise inferior materials. Almost all their structures were of brick -- aqueducts, palaces, villas, baths, and temples. Of the present remains, only a few columns and their entablatures are of marble or granite, and two or three buildings are of Travertine stone, -- all the rest are brick. The Colosseum, the mausoleum of Adrian, the tunnel sewer, the temple of Fortuna Virilis, and the ancient bridges on the Tiber, are of Travertine stone; the remaining columns of the more splendid temples, the internal columns, and their accessories, of the Pantheon, the exterior of the imperial arches, and the cenotaph columns of Trajan and of Antonine, are of marble; but the Imperial Mount of the Palatine, which holds the ruins of the palace of the Caesars, is one mass of brick; the Pantheon, except its portico and internal columns, &c., is of brick; the temples of Peace, of Venus and Rome, and of Minerva Medica, are of brick; and so, for the most part, were the walls of others, though they may have been faced with marble or freestone. The baths of Titus, of Caracalla, and Diocletian, are of brick; the city walls are of brick; so are the extensive remains of the splendid villa of Adrian, and those of the villa of Maecenas at Tivoli; the palaces of the Roman emperors and patricians at Baiae and in other parts of Italy; and so, it may be said, are the remains of Herculaneum and Pompeii, for the houses in these cities are generally built of alternate double courses of brick and courses of stone or lava. In most cases, at Rome and in the provinces, stucco formed the surface which received the decorations. From the above enumeration, it will appear how much more variously the Romans built than any of their predecessors. In Egypt we find no indications of edifices of real utility or convenience, nothing but temples and tombs, -- and in Greece there is but a small addition to this list; but in Rome are found specimens of almost every variety of structure than men in civilized communities require.

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