Friday, September 4, 2015

Colosseum, (Flavian Amphitheater) Rome Italy 70-80 CE Classic Roman

For all the videos in order with a textbook and study guides please visit:

Form: One of the major innovations in this building is the technology used to create it.  A combination of complex arches (see Stokstad for more in depth description) and concrete which is a building material which consists primarily of lime, cement, sand (pozzolana), and water with rubble mixed into it and as such is very inexpensive and easy to work with.   Since concrete can be easily molded or poured into a durable and strong stonelike substance, it was also used to create the arches and the internal filling of the walls. 

An excellent student, Sue Che wrote,
with the invention of concrete, the Romans were much more daring in creating new styles in construction. They came out of the shell of ‘post and lintel’ and started with simple arches like the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamian. The simple arches such as the triumphal arches could not satisfy their creative minds, the Romans extended the arches and got the barrel vaults. To add more interests to the vaults, they were placed across or next to each other and created the groin vaults and the arcades. Finally, the easily bored Romans put all the ideas and efforts together and built this giant oval shaped amphitheater called the Colosseum. The whole structure was designed with arches, connected vaults and arcades. The outer fa├žade is tiers of arches all the way around. When you go inside, barrel vaults and cross vaults support the tiers of seats for the audiences. It is truly amazing what the Romans can do when you put concrete in their hands.

Stokstad points out that it existed before but that the Romans perfected it and without many Roman building would not have been able to be created.  (Before you do the worksheet, make sure you read Stokstad for a more complete description of concrete and the different forms and ways it was used.)
The exterior walls were of a creamy colored calcium carbonate material called travertine, the inner walls of siliceous rock deposits called tufa, and the vaulting of the ramped seating area of monolithic concrete (for support). The fourth floor was embellished with Corinthian pilasters (ornamental) which carried wooden masts from which an awning was suspended to shield spectators from the sun. Composite are on top of the pilasters and are more visually and though makes the building look more taller. Marble and wooden seats accommodating up to about 50,000 spectators surrounded an arena measuring 280 ft by 175 ft. The floor of the arena was made of heavy wooden planks: chambers below the floor housed animals for the games. 
quoted directly from:
Its construction was started by Vespasian in AD 69 and inaugurated in AD 80. This Amphitheater was very important because of arch technology. This building had four stories and its arches were framed by superimposed orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian or Composite. This orders were used to adorned several stories of a building, they were normally in an ascending sequence from heaviest to most slender.

Doric order was assigned to the ground floor of the building,
Ionic order to the middle story, and
Corinthian order to the top story.

Iconography and Context:  According to the Britannica, 
"CONSTRUCTION OF THE COLOSSEUM WAS BEGUN SOMETIME BETWEEN AD 70 and 72 during the reign of Vespasian; the structure was officially dedicated in AD 80 by Titus in a ceremony that included 100 days of games. Later, in AD 82, Domitian completed the work by adding the uppermost story."   The Colosseum was used by the Roman Empire to entertain the masses of people who lived in the city. Gladiators were often prisoners of war or criminals. Sometimes gladiators would fight one another and other times they would fight ravenous beasts. Enemies or individuals who were perceived as threats (a good portion were Christians) to the Roman Empire sometimes were thrown in the in the ring with wild animals. This was often done dramatically by utilizing elevators and trap doors that would raise the animals into the arena. Sometimes these atrocities were committed while a massive water powered organ made music that accompanied the events. This is one of the reasons why organ music does not become popular in the Catholic Church until around 1500.