The Peculiarities of Roman Art and Architecture

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When the Roman Art Started and Where?

Roman art started almost 1,000 years ago and it was in three continents, from Europe into Africa and Asia. Roman art was detected for the first time back in 509 B.C.E., and that was during the founding of the Roman Republic, it lasted until 330 C.E. Romans used so many different things in there art they used for example painting as a way to show art, gems in their artistry work, they also used marble and terracottas which they were a part of the Roman art. Romans were influenced from other cultures in their art, cultures that surrounded them like the Greek culture, Etruscan and Egyptian culture. So it was very challenging for specialists to define and specify the Roman art. Greek art defiantly has a powerful effect on Roman art; there were a famous Roman poet named Horace said “Greece, the captive, took her savage victor captive,” what she wanted to say and meant by that the Roman it’s like took over Greece because of how much they adapted from the Greece culture and art. Also many Romans copied famous Greek works; this is why you will notice frequently the marble form of the lost Greek bronzes such like the Doryphoros by Polykleitos. The copies that the Romans did from the Greek art were more like variations rather than an exact copy, also there were small changes in them. You will notice how they used the humor in there art, and they did that by taking the main element in the Greek art and for example turning its head. There for example, the satyr Marsyas famous sculpture in the Greek culture, the Romans here converted the flayed into a knife handle in a Roman dining room. The Romans here added the knife as component that can be used to flay the poor satyr, and this kind of adaption in Roman art didn’t only show their knowledge of the Greek art, but also it showed there type of humor. the Roman artists did not copy the Greece art or any culture art they adapted everything in a brilliant way, by converting and merging elements also the sense of humor they added in there art made Roman art Roman.

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Roman Republic

Republican Rome started around 509 B.C.E., when the last Etruscan king was dethroned, king Tarquinius Superbus. During the republican rome era judjes ruled the Romans and they were elected by the public. They had two of the most important consuls, and then there was the Senate which he was the ruling body. This system went down and the civil wars started in between 100 and 42 B.C.E. then Octavian ended this war by defeating Mark Antony in the Actium battle during 31 B.C.E. During the republican time, art was mainly made only for celebrating military campaigns or in order to define the public pain and loss. The Patrons in this period chose to represent themselves with bald heads, large noses, and extra wrinkles, to demonstrate that they had spent their lives working for the Republic as model citizens. Here in this sculpture we have the veristic style, which is refers to the over emphasized features in every flaw.

The Imperial Rome Period

So as soon as when the Roman republic ended Augustus’s power started to appear to control in Rome and here where the Imperial rule started. And you will notice here how much the Roman art changed a lot; it started to glorify the ruler of Rome and the royal family. The periods in the Imperial Roman art was named after individual rulers or after major dynasties.

Who Made Roman Art?

We don’t exactly know for real who started the roman art. Because we didn’t know much about the Artists in this period of time and this is because of the lack of the documented evidences in that period. So as a result, scholars do not usually refer to specific artists but consider them generally, as a largely anonymous group.

What Did They Make in Roman Art?

Roman art included and covered houses as well. Rich Romans houses showed how really they were rich. These Roman houses were visited frequently because they were meant to be visited and viewed by the people, Roman houses included so many types of art such as Wall paintings, mosaics on the floors or walls, and sculptures combined with luxury items like bronze and silver bowls. When any Roman dies they leave behind figures that Identifies them as indivisiuals. These figures usually emphasized unique physical traits or trade. It includes portrait busts, wall reliefs set into working-class group tombs, and they decorated their tombs in a luxurious way. The public field was full of art works dedicated especially to the rulers, the art work varied from each other there were portraits of the royal family; also the bath houses had decorations similar to the important statues. It’s not really easy to specify Roman art it’s very difficult to distinguish what is Roman in art in general, and all that because of the Roman adaption from the countries around them, Roman toke cultures from different places and very differently and uniquely they combined them and made it to what’s is Roman art now.

Architecture in Roman Culture

Roman architecture was unique and nothing like it came before. Persians, Egyptians, Greeks all had monumental architecture. They had royalty in their buildings, but it was largely external. The Roman architectures always depended on a precise system while designing a building structures, so they used two standing posts from the outside, and then they combined columns with a horizontal block which is known for a lintel, across the top a flat were placed. And this explains the extraordinary structures of the Roman culture. Because lintels were very dense and weight a lot, the building from inside didn’t have big spaces it was very limited for the architects. And that why we notice in the Roman architecture that the interiors had to be well used in order to support the heavy weight of the lintels. Roman architecture was different from this tradition because of the discovery, experimentation of concrete, arches and vaulting. Because of these innovations, from the first century C.E. Romans became able to create interior spaces that never been heard of. So as a result, the interior of Roman buildings were as impressive as their exteriors.

Materials and Methods Used in Roman Architecture

Concrete wasn’t known in Rome and before that Romans used to use a volcanic type of stone which it called tufa in building their buildings, and its brought from Italy. So when Romans ran out of tufa they didn’t stop they started to travertine and that was in the late 2nd century B.C.E. they chose and used travertine because it was more solid than tufa. And it had prettier color that worked well with marble, it was off-white. Marble was difficult to find in because Romans used to think it was a waste to have it and that was during the Republican period. But this period went down Romans started to use marble a lot and it became fashionable. Then as time passed by Romans invented there concrete and that was at the early 2nd c. BCE. The method of using mortar to connect between bricks in buildings wasn’t new in that time. It was very easy to make mortar it was basically made sand, lime and water added together in specific amounts. Then Romans introduced their own recipe of mortar and that was by adding volcanic Italian sand (pozzolana). Roman builders noticed a huge difference when they used this new mortar it was way stronger, and it had the ability to be under water. Concrete usually was not alone it usually combined with Brick and tile because it is not pretty on its own. The creation of opus caementicium started the Roman architecture revolution, this innovation give the chance to the builders to be more creative with their work. And that’s because concrete Tooke easily the shape of any mold it’s in so the buildings had different shapes and looked more creative. The Romans also toke the opportunities afforded to architects by the invention of a true arch. A true arch is composed mainly of wedge-shaped blocks and this is called voussoirs, the key stone was placed in the middle of the arch it holds everything in place. This type of arch, the weight is usually placed equally between the voussoirs, and then it will go from the very top of the arch to the ground of the arch, so it will create a strong building. This type of arches which called True arches has a greater distance in-between than a simple post-and-lintel arch has. This new concrete Romans created gave the chance for the arches and domes in Rome to be built in a unique way creating a broad and breathtaking interior spaces and designs.

Building Types

Roman cities mainly focused on forum this forum was a large open plaza which surrounded by an important buildings, which was the heart of the city. Also important temples and shrines were located in the city forum. Also the forum included the law court and the official meeting of the town council. Usually fish, meat and vegetables market are located around the forum. Pompeii, Italy is an example of a great well preserved forum. Romans had a wide range house types. The wealthy Romans usually own a house in the city called (domus), and a country farmhouse called (villa), while the Romans from the lower classes used to live in apartments that had more than one flat these buildings were called (insulae). A great example of insulae is The House of Diana in Ostia. the Romans also even in death built and constructed extraordinary building to rest in them after death, an example of that is Eurysaces the Baker, which his tomb is still stands near the Porta Maggiore in Rome. Romans built canals through their domain in order to supply the cities with water. The source of water made the Roman bath houses one of the important features of the Roman cities. Roman lifestyle was a very healthy one this life style included attending’s to gym. In the Imperial time Romans built a grand gymnasium complex and it was sponsored by the state, for example the Baths of Caracalla included inside running tracks, gardens and libraries. There were various ways of entertainments in order to suit all tastes. So the Romans had a Greek style theater for the plays, and buildings too close to the building which were in Pompeii in Italy, these buildings were made especially for musical plays or performances. Also in Rome they build the amphitheaters which they are basically used for a very tradition sport in Rome which was gladiator combats and fights between men and animals. They also built circuses around the whole Rome.


Romans continued to build a perfect bridge and roads as well, to allow them to cross the rivers and valleys to cut off great distances to expand their empire and better supervise it. Roman art wasfrom Spain Alcantra continued to the roads of Petra Jordan, they moved messagesand history by their art.


  1. Diana Kleiner, Roman Architecture: A Visual Guide, Yale University, 2014.
  2. Stewart Peter. Social History of Roman Art. Cambridge University, 2008.
  3. Zanker, Paul. Roman Art,J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010.
  4. Jeffrey A. Becker and Nicola Terrenato. eds. Roman Republican Villas: Architecture, Context, and Ideology (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012).
  5. Lisa C. Nevett, Domestic space in Classical Antiquity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
  6. A. Carandini and P. Carafa, eds., Atlante di Roma antica: biografia e ritratti della città, 2 v. (Milan: Electa, 2012).
  7. A. Claridge, Rome: an Archaeological Guide 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).
  8. J. Sewell, The formation of Roman urbanism, 338-200 B.C.: between contemporary foreign influence and Roman tradition (Journal of Roman archaeology Supplementary series; 79), (Portsmouth RI: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 2010).
  9. A. E. Cooley and M.G.L. Cooley, Pompeii and Herculaneum: a sourcebook,second ed. (London and New York: Routledge, 2014).

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