Tag Archives: architecture

Eily’s Colosseum PowerPoint

You can download Eily’s presentation on the Colosseum:  The Colosseum



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Circus Maximus (Tyler)

When was the Circus built?

The Circus Maximus was originally built in the sixth century BCE. Permanent starting gates were constructed in 329 BCE, and they were rebuilt in 174 BCE. Julius Caesar lengthened the track and built a euripus (water filled channel) around it in 46 BCE. In 33 BCE, Agrippa supplemented the large wooden eggs used for marking laps with seven bronze dolphins instead. In 31 BCE, a fire destroyed most of the Circus, and Augustus rebuilt it, and added an imperial box, or a pulvinar. In 10 BCE, an obelisk was erected as a dedication to the sun, and as a monument for the conquest of Egypt. Finally, in 80 CE, Trajan restored the temple to greater than ever before after a fire, changing some seats into marble, making massive columns and arches on the sides, adding walkways between seats, and allowing men and women to sit together.

Where, why, how, and by whom was the Circus built?

The circus was built by Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome. By the time of the building of the Circus, chariot races were already happening near the site of the building. The building simply gave an official venue in which the races could occur. Part of the building of the Circus involved rechanneling a river to make a boundary for the track. The circus was the first of its kind to be built, and the channeling of the river, the massive sandy track, and the seats around the edges marked one of the original sport stadiums. It was located in the valley between the Palatine and Aventine hills. When it was rebuilt in 80 CE, massive arches, and marble seating were added, making this into a truly magnificent example of a Roman sports stadium. Other chariot tracks built around the Empire were modeled on the circus. The circus was originally mostly made out of wood, as the seats were on raised wooden platforms, and the starting gates were wood, but in 80 CE, marble was added. While the Circus was built for chariot races, gladiator games and animal hunts were staged there as well.


What were the important structural and artistic features of the Circus?

Like major racing stadiums today, the starting areas were staggered so the total distances was the same. The arches were another important structural feature of the Circus, one of the features that would, and had, become iconic in Roman architecture.  Columns were also a very important feature of the Circus, making it look extremely impressive on the outside. A very important feature, both structural and artistic, was the Euripus, a moat around the outside to protect the spectators from wild animals. There was a sweeping curve at both ends of the track, called the sphendone, and this was where many crashes would have occurred. An important artistic feature was the metae, turning posts with seven bronze dolphins on them to mark the laps.

What was the usage and significance of the Circus Maximus in the Roman world?

The Circus Maximus, and Circuses in general, were one of the most important features of Ancient Rome. The Circus itself was used extremely often, with seventy-seven days devoted to racing at one point, and twenty four races a day after Caligula. Four factions dominated the Circus, Red, White, Blue, and Green, with Blue and Green being the most important. The Roman populace loved the games, and often used them as an excuse to petition the Emperor, or even attempt to crown new ones after the Emperor’s death sometimes. Each race in the Circus had seven laps, and would have been upwards of three miles long. Deaths were common at the races, with risks including being run over by chariots, having an enemy’s whip knock you off, or simply dying in a chariot crash. Sometimes, victory by a particular faction would result in disastrous riots, with portions of the populace being killed. There was an intense rivalry  between factions, as the individual racers, or supporters often tried to kill or curse each other. Probably nothing, except for the gladiatorial games, was as popular as chariot racing was in Rome.


Other interesting information about the Circus Maximus:

Many emperors were especially brutal in their handling of crowds at a circus, such as Caligula. He once simply killed all citizens who were demanding lowered taxes until they stopped complaining. The Circus remained as a sports stadium until 550 CE. This was around the end of the importance of the city of Rome. It was never used for other events, and quickly fell into ruin with the rest of the city.



“Circus Maximus.”  Circus Maximus. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/circusmaximus/circusmaximus.html>.

Brommer, Gerald F. Discovering Art History, 3rd ed. Worcester: Davis Publications Inc. 1997

Thompson, Nancy L. “Roman Art”. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007


“Circus Maximus.”  Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Aug. 2012. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circus_Maximus>.

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The Arch of Constantine (by Harrison)

Who built it and Why

  • Erected by Senate in 312
  • Dedicated to Emperor Constantine after his victory against Emperor Maxentius at the Battle of
  • Milvian Bridge in 312
  • Repaired in 18th C.
  • Restored for final time in 1990

Purpose and How it was made

  • The Arch spans the Via Triumphalis – the road from Palestine Hill to the Coliseum
  • Emperors would travel this route after a military victory
  • The arch is 21 m high, 25.9 m wide and 7.4 m deep.
  • three archways:
  • central one being 11.5 m high and 6.5 m wide
  • smaller lateral archways 7.4 m by 3.4 m each
  • Made with brick, and riveted in marble
  • Senate built it to commemorate Emperor Constantine
  • Original brickwork and marble was constructed, then other architectural, and sculptural features
  • were taken from existing monuments and placed on the Arch

Imporant features:

  • Features depictions of war and Roman legends – including Hadrian hunting Lions
  • Features Hellenistic aspects
  • Corinthian Columns
  • Intricate & complex designs
  • Great detail
  • Primarily focuses on glorifying Roman military victories

Main Section

  • The spandrels of the main archway are decorated with reliefs depicting victory figures with
  • trophies
  • Separated by Corinthian style columns, with statues of Emperor Corinthius on top of them
  • Smaller archways depicts scenes of gods
  • Circular-framed scenes depicting hunting and sacrifice
  • Main piece is under the circular freezes, and depicts Emperor Constantine’s campaign against
  • Maxentius



To the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus, the greatest, pious, and blessed Augustus: because he,
inspired by the divine, and by the greatness of his mind, has delivered the state from the tyrant and all of
his followers at the same time, with his army and just force of arms, the Senate and People of Rome have
dedicated this arch, decorated with triumphs.


  • Considered to be one of Rome’s great architectural pieces
  • Gives knowledge of time period
  • Wide array of images, scenes depicted
  • Shows Empire propaganda in the glorification of Costantinus in his military victory
  • Uses various styles
  • Design has been the inspiration for many similar arch’s
  • Used in 1960 Olympics as the marathon finish line
  • Considered one of Rome’s most illustrious buildings


Works Cited

“Arch of Constantine.” – Smarthistory. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/arch-of-constantine.html&gt;.

“Triumphal Arches of Titus, Septimius Severus, and Constantine.” Arch of Constantine. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://web.mit.edu/course/21/21h.405/www/ArchesOfTitus/constantine-art.html&gt;.

“Arch of Constantine.” Arch of Constantine. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/romanurbs/archconstantine.html&gt;.

Brommer, Gerald F. Discovering Art History 3rd Ed. Worcester Davis Publicant Inc. 1997

Thompson, Nanny L. “Roman Art“ New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007

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The Arch of Titus (by Nick)

Inscriptions on the arch meaning: The Roman Senate and
People to Deified Titus, Vespasian Augustus, son of Deified
Vespasian’ were originally in bronze. The reliefs were also
colored and the arch was topped by a bronze quadriga.

– The Arch of Titus was built in 81 AD. In the 11th century the Frangipani family had a fortress built surrounding the Arch. In 1821 it was restored by Giuseppe Valadier. And then in between 1822 and 1823 they outer parts were rebuilt using travertine (opposed to the initial marble) this way we are able to differentiate the original pieces and the restored parts.

Inscriptions on the arch meaning: The Roman Senate and
People to Deified Titus, Vespasian Augustus, son of Deified
Vespasian’ were originally in bronze. The reliefs were also
colored and the arch was topped by a bronze quadriga.

-This was built at the “Forum Romanum” “at the highest point of the “Via Sacra” “
-It was built in commemoration of the victory of the Jewish Zealots. As well as in honor of Emperor Titus, who died of a fever in year 81.
-The arch was built by Titusʼ brother Domitian.

-Although it is unclear who actually made or at least participated in making the Arch what is clear is that it was commissioned by Emperor Domitian. And they incorporated a Flavian style. This style can be identified through the simplicity of the general shape and even some of the pictures on the arch.

-The Arch of Titus is created from a “Pentelic marble” and it sits on top of a travertine (a type of limestone) base. They used a white marble which often signified wealth and had an overall positive connotation. Structurally, the Arch gets its strength from its “voussoirʼs” which means “Wedge shaped stone or brick”, making the curved format possible. (very common when it comes to building vaults and arches). Different parts of the arch have different names. Approaching from the front the part that sticks out the most is called the archʼs “barrel vault”(depth of 4.75 m), the archway was 8.3m high and 5.36m wide. Also the Arch of Titus was supposedly the first of its kind to combine Ionic and Corinthian styles to create “Composite order”.

-The Arch of Titus was not something to be used practically, rather to be looked upon symbolically. The Arch signified the victory of the Jewish people in the Jewish war. The fact that the Arch is still standing is also significant, this proves that the defeat was not a temporary victory, rather a long term life changing event.

– A cool fact about the arch is the oldest surviving Roman arch. And on the inside of the two panels are pictures or “reliefs” one side depicting the Triumphal procession with the spoils taken from the second temple in Jerusalem. The other showing Titus being carried in a chariot accompanied by the Goddesses Victoria and Roma.


A painting of the Arch by
Canaletto depicting what it
would look like in ancient times.

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The Pantheon (By Elliot)

Background and significance in ancient Rome:

–        The Pantheon was created by Marcus Agrippa during his time in consulship in 27 B.C.

–        It burned down twice and the final Pantheon as it is known today was made in 80 A.D. by Hadrian. Hadrian not wanting to take away Agrippa’s glory has Agrippa’s name still on it.

–        It is located in the city of Rome in the exact area which is known as the place where Romulus died, and was where an eagle picked up his body and brought him up to the heavens.

–        The Pantheon’s history is still not fully known, but it is known that it was a temple to all the gods, but the nature of the ceremonies done in its heyday.

–        The main reason it is in such good condition today is because possession of the building was handed over to the Roman Catholic Church by Emperor Phocas of Byzantine.

–        Today it serves as a Church and has done so since its creation, today though it has marble columns and other decorations to impress


The Pantheon’s Construction:

–        It was built only with the introduction of concrete into Roman construction, for it allowed them to form the basic dome which is its most important feature.

–        It was likely constructed by using intricate wooden scaffolding and the dome itself was made from a single mold of Concrete which was then reinforced with bricks.

–        The building itself is completely round save for the entrance which is a square.

–        The entrance has elements of Greek architecture in the form of a pediment, as well originally played out the scene of the battle with the titans.

–        The top of the dome is best known for its oculus which is a skylight and the only source of light in the building.

–        The building is built with a special concave floor which will cause rain to cleanly dry out of the building through an intricate drainage system.

The Pantheon Today

In Roman Times

The Oculus

Works Cited

greatbuildings.com.  “Pantheon.”  http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Pantheon.html.  web.

2012.  August 23, 2012.

Rodolpho Lanciani.  “Pantheon.”  http://aabbeatv.com/Pantheon/Pantheon.html.  web.  February 3,

2000.  August 23, 2012.

Thayer, William P.  “Pantheon.”

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/Lazio/Roma/Rome/_Texts/PLATOP*/Pantheon.html.  web.  October 12, 2007.  August 23, 2012.

italyguides.it.  “The Pantheon of the Roman Gods.”  http://www.italyguides.it/us/roma/pantheon.htm.  web.  2012.  August 23, 2012.

rome.info.  “Roman Pantheon.”  http://www.rome.info/pantheon/.  web.  2009.  August 23, 2012.

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Introduction to Greek Art & Architecture PowerPoint

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