Influences on Roman Architecture

Greek Columns The ancient Greeks developed three distinctive, carefully proportioned styles of columns—the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. The Doric column, first used in the 7th century bc, has no base, and the heavy shaft is tapered upward to the capital. The surface of the shaft, which has a slight convex curve, is indented with shallow, vertical channelings or flutings, features also found in the Ionic and Corinthian orders. The Doric capital consists mainly of an undecorated, square slab resting on a rounded disc of stone that tapers down to the top of the shaft.

In the 6th century bc the Ionic order was introduced into Greece from Asia. The Ionic column, which is more tapered than the Doric, rises from a richly molded circular base. The capital is distinguished by projecting stone spirals known as volutes.

In the 4th century bc the Corinthian order was introduced as a variant of the Ionic. The Corinthian shaft is slender, and the capital is carved in the shape of an inverted bell, ornately decorated with volutes and acanthus leaves. The Romans added two types of columns to the classical orders, the Tuscan, an unfluted modification of the Doric, and the Composite, which had the Ionic shaft and a more ornate Corinthian capital. A single pillar, such as Trajan's Column, in Rome, was sometimes erected to commemorate an event or to honor a person.

Romans learned the vaulting system from the Etruscans. They used Barrel Vaults and Groined vaults for construction of different public and imperial buildings. Circular barrel vaulting was used to cover the galleries in Colosseum.  

Arches and Vaults

Barrel vault in Colosseum

They also learned arch building from the Etruscans and later on developed this skill and started using Domes in their buildings.

Arcade and groined vaults in a Forum Previously Romans used trabeate system for supporting the roof. With this system, the intercolumniation distance was very less. To increase this distance they had to use big monolithic stones which were very difficult to find. The arcuate system taken from the Etruscans proved helpful in increasing the intercolumniation spaces to a greater extent.

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