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,[…]

A Candid History of Christmas: First There was Winter

Ave, Caesar! Io, Saturnalia! (1880) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1880, with the Praetorian Guard hailing Claudius (veiling himself in a curtain) as the new emperor after the assassination of Caligula. / Akron Art Museum, Wikimedia Commosn By Dr. Bruce David Forbes Chair, Philosophy and Religious Studies Department Morningside College To understand what Christmas has become, first we should consider winter. For the moment,[…]

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[…]

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.[…]

Greek and Roman Mythology – What is Myth?

The Dance of the Muses at Mount Helicon by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1807). Hesiod cites inspiration from the Muses while on Mount Helicon. / Alte Nationalgalerie By Louise Taylor / 06.21.2013 TEFL Educator Southwest France What is Myth? Mythologies come from many different cultures across the old world but we are going to concentrate on the Greeks and the Romans. “Myth” is one[…]

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[…]

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[…]

Origin and Evolution of the Roman Dome

Interior of the Pantheon Dome (photo by author) From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student J.P. Lehmer) / 09.16.2013 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction This article highlights the evolution of the dome through engineering advancements by the ancient Roman civilization and summarizes their progress through several case studies. The influence the[…]

Engineering of the Flavian Ampitheatre (Roman Colosseum)

Colosseum interior / Photo by LemonCrumpet, Wikimedia Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student Megan Anderson) / 12.02.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction The Colosseum, alternatively known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is arguably Rome’s most well-known monument. The elliptical structure that spans 6 acres signifies the presence and importance of[…]

Engineering the Pantheon – Architectural, Construction, & Structural Analysis

Pantheon, Photo by Steve Heddin, Wikimedia Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student Kristina N. Low) / 09.28.2011 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction Figure 1. Pantheon Facade The Pantheon (Figure 1.) is one of the most famous sights in Italy (Figure 2.) as it issignificant for being one of the most well-preserved[…]

Aqueducts: Hydrology in Ancient Rome

Roman acqueduct near Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain / Photo by Cruccone, Wikimedia Commons From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student A. Maznamy) / 09.06.2013 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction Ancient Romans constructed complex hydrological systems known as aqueducts which supplied Rome with massive amounts of water through a complex system of open channels, tunnels,[…]

An Ancient Network: The Roads of Rome

Figure 1: Roman road network at the peak of the Empire (Andrein, 2009) From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student J.C. Back) / 11.02.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction Before the inventions of modern times to simplify communication and transportation, roadways were the backbone of achievement and convenience. For the Roman[…]

Nero Tyrannus: The Physiological and Psychosomatic Causes of His Tyrannical Legacy

Gold coin showing facing busts of Nero and Agrippina / Wikimedia Commons By Amanda Gardner / 11.02.2015 University of Colorado, Boulder Undergraduate thesis defended Fall 2015 Evidence from the Rubble Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus in 37 AD. He was the adopted son of Claudius and biological son of Agrippina. Many[…]

Archaeologists Discover Early Iron Age, Late Roman Settlement with Bi-Ritual Necropolis

A large Late Roman settlement near Bulgaria’s Moshtanets, which was also inhabited earlier, ca. 1,000 BC, has been excavated for several months. Photo: Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History By Ivan Dikov / 11.23.2017 Archaeology in Bulgaria A large settlement which was inhabited during the Early Iron Age (ca. 1,000 BC), possibly by Ancient Thracians, and then[…]

Adaptive Reuse of Ancient Buildings in Rome

From Dr. Stephen T. Muench (by student Bailey Anne Cook) / 12.04.2015 Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Introduction    [LEFT]: Figure 1: Column left in side of wall [RIGHT]: Figure 2: Reuse of decorations The idea of “green buildings” has been rapidly growing around the world since the 1970s due to the[…]

Archaeologists Find Statue of Egyptian Goddess Isis and Satyr’s Head at Roman Villa

A statue of Isis, the Ancient Egyptian goddess, and a head from a human-sized statue of a satyr, a companion of Dionysus, have been discovered at the Roman villa estate and nymphaeum near Bulgaria’s Kasnakovo. Photo: TV grab from bTV By Ivan Dikov / 11.17.2017 Archaeology in Bulgaria A 2nd century AD marble statue of the Ancient[…]

Archaeologists Uncover Rare 2,000-Year-Old Sundial during Roman Theatre Excavation

A 2,000-year-old intact and inscribed sundial – one of only a handful known to have survived – has been recovered during the excavation of a roofed theatre in the Roman town of Interamna Lirenas, near Monte Cassino, in Italy. 11.08.2017 Not only has the sundial survived largely undamaged for more than two millennia, but the presence of two Latin[…]

Roman London’s First Voices

Lecture by Dr. Roger Tomlin at the Museum of London / 10.10.2017 Professor Emeritus Wolfson College University of Oxford Since we know so much about the Romans from their stone inscriptions, there is a myth that they even conducted their correspondence on slabs of stone. This can be reduced to a joke – ‘Pass me[…]

The Praetorian Guard: History and Evolution

Detail of a triumphal arch depicting Praetorian Guards. / Photo by Eric Huybrechts, The Louvre, Creative Commons By Mark Cartwright / 12.02.2016 Historian The Praetorian Guard (cohortes praetoriae) was, in the Roman Republic, a commander’s personal bodyguard and then, in the imperial period, an elite force assigned to protect the emperor and Rome. Over the years, the guard would become a[…]