Unusually Sophisticated Prehistoric Monuments and Technology Revealed in the Heart of the Aegean

New excavations on the remote island of Keros reveal monumental architecture and technological sophistication at the dawn of the Cycladic Bronze Age. 01.18.2018 New work at the settlement of Dhaskalio, the site adjoining the prehistoric sanctuary on the Cycladic island of Keros, has shown this to be a more imposing and densely occupied series of[…]

The Santa Pudenziana: Christianity Takes on an Imperial Aura in Ancient Rome

Pediment above the door of Santa Pudenziana, 4th century C.E., Rome By Dr. Allen Farber / 08.08.2015 Professor of Art History State University of New York College at Oneonta A ritual space Nave of Santa Pudenziana, 4th century C.E. The opulent interior of the Constantinian basilicas would have created an effective space for increasingly elaborate[…]

An Introduction to Early Christian Art and Architecture

Colossal statue of Constantine the Great, 4th century (Capitoline Museum, Rome) (photo: Jean-Christophe BENOIST CC BY 2.5) By Dr. Allen Farber / 08.08.2015 Professor of Art History State University of New York College at Oneonta Early Christianity Two important moments played a critical role in the development of early Christianity: 1. The decision of the Apostle Paul[…]

The Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace)

Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace), 9 B.C.E. (Ara Pacis Museum, Rome, Italy) By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 11.23.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace), 9 B.C.E. (Ara Pacis Museum, Rome, Italy) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) The Roman state religion in microcosm The festivities of[…]

The Temple of Portunus in Rome

By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 12.09.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University Temple of Portunus (formerly known as Fortuna Virilis), travertine, tufa, and stucco, c. 120-80 B.C.E., Rome The Temple of Portunus is a well preserved late second or early first century B.C.E. rectangular temple in Rome, Italy. Its dedication to the God[…]

The Forum Romanum (Roman Forum) and Imperial Fora

View of the Forum from the slope of the Capitoline to the Palatine Hill By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 12.09.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University Forum Romanum (Roman Forum) In his play Curculio, the Latin playwright Plautus offers perhaps one of the most comprehensive and insightful descriptions of the Forum Romanum ever written (ll. 466-482).[…]

History of the Longhouse

An Iroquois longhouse Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 12.30.2017 Brewminate Editor-in-Chief All images from Wikimedia Commons Introduction A longhouse or long house is a type of long, narrow, single-room building built by peoples in various parts of the world. Many were built from timber and represent the earliest form of permanent structure in many cultures. Ruins of prehistoric longhouses have been found in[…]

Architecture and Symbolism in Buddhist Monasteries

Standing Male Worshipper (votive figure), c. 2900-2600 B.C.E., Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar, Iraq), gypsum alabaster, shell, black limestone, bitumen, 11 5/8 x 5 1/8 x 3 7/8″ / 29.5 x 10 cm, Sumerian (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City) By Dr. Karen Shelby / 08.09.2015 Assistant Professor of Art History Baruch College, The City University of[…]

Envisioning Alternate Futures: Nature in the Making of the Metropolis

Drawing of Alexander von Humboldt’s concept of Naturgemälde: “a microcosm in one page.” Published in Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland, Ideen zu einer Geographer der Planzen nebst einem Naturgemälde der Tropenländer (Tübingen: F.G. Cotta, Paris: F. Schoell, 1807). Source: Wikimedia Commons Creative thinking about the development of Latin American cities to inspire future urban planning. By[…]

The Influence of Medieval Christian Liturgy on Architecture

Priest receiving communion before altar (detail), Master of the Church Fathers’ Border, The Mass of Saint Gregory, late 15th century, metalcut with traces of hand-coloring; second state, 13 7/8 x 19 15/16 in (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) By Dr. Jennifer Awes-Freeman / 08.08.2015 Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History and Religious Studies University of St.[…]

Roman Domestic Architecture

Peristyle, Casa della Venere in Conchiglia, Pompeii (Photo: F. Tronchin/Warren, Peristyle, Casa della Venere in Conchiglia, Pompeii, BY-NC-ND 2.0) By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 02.27.2016 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University Domus Introduction Understanding the architecture of the Roman house requires more than simply appreciating the names of the various parts of the structure,[…]

The Altneuschul, Prague: Medieval Jewish Synagogue Architecture

Altneushul, Prague (photo: Øyvind Holmstad, CC BY-SA 3.0) The Old New Synagogue or Altneuschul, situated in Josefov, Prague, is Europe’s oldest active synagogue.[1] It is also the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design. By Dr. Carol Herselle Krinsky / 09.18.2017 Professor of Art History New York University In architecture, there is often a dominant mode of design in a given country or region at[…]

Rome’s Enduring Arch

Figure 1: Ponte Garibaldi serving as both pedestrian walkway and traffic arterial ( Photo by: Self, 2013) From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (student paper) / 09.06.2013 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction The first arch made an appearance in structural design in the second millennium BC via the Mesopotamians. However, it wasn’t[…]

An Introduction to Ancient Roman Architecture

An example of post and lintel architecture: Hera II, Paestum, c. 460 B.C.E. (Classical period), tufa, 24.26 x 59.98 m By Dr. Jessica Leay Ambler / 08.08.2015 Professor of Humanities Southern New Hampshire University Roman architecture was unlike anything that had come before. The Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Etruscans all had monumental architecture. The grandeur[…]

An Antidote for Social Amnesia: The Memory Space of the Cais do Valongo

Valongo Wharf, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, December 13, 2013 The archeological remains of a wharf in Rio de Janeiro used in the transatlantic slave trade is a site of collective memory. By Camilla Querin / 12.12.2017 Research Assistant Getty Research Institute In 2011 an archeological site of global importance resurfaced in Rio de Janeiro: the Cais[…]

The Tiber River: Central to Prosperity and Life in Ancient Rome

The Tiber River / Creative Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (student paper) / 12.03.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction Figure 1: Ancient Tributaries of the Tiber Legend tells us that Rome was founded by a brother who, along with his twin, was sentenced to death as an infant. They were[…]

Water and the Development of Ancient Rome

From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (student paper) / 12.14.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction Water is a basic necessity for life and civilization. Humans can survive a month without eating, but only a week without drinking water (Spector, 2014). In ancient times, before the practice of purifying and cleaning water was[…]

Engineering of Rome’s Via Appia

Photo by Paul Hermans, Wikimedia Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (student paper) / 03.26.2014 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction The infrastructure of a city is the foundation on which civilization is built upon. ‍Formally defined here, infrastructure can be thought of as any underlying foundation used to provide goods and services for[…]

Engineering of Saint Peter’s Basilica

Figure 1. Location of St. Peter’s Basilica From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (student paper by B. Hess) / 09.06.2013 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Background Saint ‍Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City is the largest church in the world, as it can hold up to 60,000 people and it is 22,000 square meters.[…]

Post-Roman Italian Renaissance Gardens and the Villa d’Este

Parts of Fountain of Rome, includes: Statue of the wolf and Romulus and Remus, Minerva and another statue at Villa d’Este (Tivoli) / Photo by Yair Haklai, Wikimedia Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (student paper) / 12.14.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Renaissance Gardens History Gardens have been present in cities[…]

Deterioration and Decay of Ancient Roman Structures

Roman insulae in Ostia Antica / Photo by Charles Gardner, Wikimedia Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student Claire Cyra) / 12.04.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction Many ‍of the engineering techniques and materials that make up our cities today also formed the foundations and structure of Roman architecture over two[…]

Construction and Behavior of the Pantheon

The Pantheon Today (Photo by author) From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student Alec Harrison) / 12.14.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction The Pantheon is one of Rome’s most iconic and best preserved ancient structures. With massive single stone columns holding up the portico at the entrance, the immense open interior[…]

Understanding Roman Concrete

A section of the Roman city-wall of Empuries, Spain. 1st century BCE. The base of the wall was made using calcareous rock while the upper portion is of Roman concrete (opus caementicium). / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student Nigel Lyons) / 09.16.2013 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction[…]

Obelisks on the Move

Side view of the Vatican obelisk being lowered, 1590. Engraving in Della trasportatione dell’obelisco… (Rome: Appresso Domenico Basa). The Getty Research Institute, 87-B7401 A look at the manpower and engineering needed to move obelisks in ancient Egypt, Rome, and today. By Sara E. Cole / 12.06.2017 Curatorial Assistant, Antiquities Department J. Paul Getty Museum A few months[…]

Ancient Roman Mining and Quarrying Techniques

From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student Jacob Deb) / 11.28.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction Indeed, Rome was not built in a day. Although its close proximity to debris from the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Vesuvius allowed it to be built quicker than most cities. This paper explores the history[…]

Modern Roman Construction and Ancient Roman Ruins

Ancient aqueduct construction illustration / Creative Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student Mia Celizaga) / 12.04.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction C‍onstruction can be a lengthy process. First, someone is assigned to design and plan a structure and the finances are worked out and the proper materials and machines[…]

Relieving Arches of Roman Structures

The triumphal arch of Septimius Severus in Rome, erected in 203 CE to commemorate victory over the Parthians. / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student Sara Foxx) / 09.16.2013 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction Ancient Rome was defined by its incredible buildings, reaching into the sky taller than ever[…]