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Was Rome Built in a Day? Material, Techniques and Achievements of Roman Architecture with Livia Galante

Was Rome Built in a Day? Material, Techniques and Achievements of Roman Architecture with Livia Galante


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Starting as a village of huts on the Palatine Hill, Rome became a metropolis of 1.5 million people, with magnificent temples, imposing public buildings, and lavish aristocratic residences. Indeed, concrete was one of the greatest achievements of ancient Rome, and Many Roman structures like the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Markets of Trajan are still standing today thanks to the development of Roman concrete. Its unique recipe, which used slaked lime and a volcanic ash known as pozzolana, produced a sticky paste; combined with volcanic rocks called tuff, this ancient cement formed a concrete that could effectively endure chemical decay. Pozzolana helped Roman concrete set quickly even when submerged in seawater, enabling the construction of elaborate baths, piers, and harbors. 

Besides the use of concrete, building techniques changed: ashlar blocks started to be replaced by regularly shaped cubilia (little pieces of rock cut in a pyramidal shape) and by bricks. Studying wall facings, it is possible to understand the evolution of Roman buildings as well as dating the structures quite precisely. Arches have existed for roughly 4,000 years, but the ancient Romans were the first to effectively develop their power in the construction of bridges, monuments and buildings. The ingenious design of the arch allowed the weight of buildings to be evenly distributed along various supports, preventing massive Roman structures like the Colosseum from crumbling under their own weight. Roman engineers improved on arches by flattening their shape to create what is known as a segmental arch, and repeating them at various intervals to build stronger supports that could span large gaps when used in bridges and aqueducts. Along with columns, domes and vaulted ceilings, the arch became one of the defining characteristics of the Roman architectural style. 

Led by an expert on Ancient Roman Topography, Livia Galante, this lecture is designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels. Participants will come away with an increased comprehension on the material, techniques, and achievements of Roman architecture.

Livia obtained a degree in Archaeology at the Sapienza University of Rome and has a Master's degree in the History and Conservation of Cultural Heritage from the University of Roma Tre. Her main field of interest is ancient Roman topography and early Christian architecture; however, she is an accomplished scholar whose teaching ability extends to the Renaissance and Baroque Rome. As a native Roman, Livia is very enthusiastic about sharing the deep love and knowledge she has for her hometown with clients.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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