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Ancient Greek and Roman architecture has had great influences on modern architecture. As some of the oldest civilizations, Greece and Rome had distinct styles which have been adapted to modern styles. One of the styles is the architecture of amphitheaters as seen in Roman culture. According to Sayre (2012), amphitheaters were built by emperors as venues for spectacles and contests such as bullfights and contests between gladiators. The architecture of these structures has been adopted in many modern meeting facilities including Madison Square in New York and Robert Hall in London among many others. The most outstanding feature of the amphitheaters is the oval or round shape and several levels of the building to provide space for spectators. The convenience of hosting many people in a relatively small space and vision lines to the lower levels made these Roman features outstanding
Figure 1 (a) The Colloseum in Rome, Italy, showing the several levels for spectator seats and the oval shape compared to Figure 1 (b) of the Royal Albert Hall in London, UK.
Other than the inspiration of the amphitheaters in creating round and oval halls, Greek architecture was richer and more detailed than Roman. Therefore, architectural styles borrowed from the Greeks were numerous compared to those borrowed from the Romans. One outstanding architectural element is the use of columns as structural and decorative aspects of the buildings. According to Miles (2016), the Greek style is often referred to as ‘post and lintel’ meaning that it was mainly composed of upright beams that supported horizontal ones. The upright beams were the columns and as evidenced from ancient Greek architecture, they were both a structural component as well as an aesthetic one. Due to the large size of most of the temples and other buildings, columns were used to support the beams and were also sites for decorative work which showed the affiliation or order of the building. Columns were generally thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top with cylindrical shapes.
The influence of using columns in Greek temples has been seen in modern buildings. One such example is the White House which has used decorative and structural columns on the exterior as well as interior. For instance, the image of the entrance hall, considered the formal entrance to the White House, shows the use of columns for decorative as well as structural support. They are similar to those used in the image of Greek architecture.
Figure 2: Greek columns compared to columns in the entrance hall of the White House.
Miles, M. M. (Ed.). (2016). A Companion to Greek Architecture(Vol. 114). John Wiley & Sons.
Sayre, H.M. (2012). Discovering the humanities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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Hi Olubukoia I too was inspired by the colosseum and the columns and did a little further investigation. I wanted to know who built the Colosseum and it was Emperor Augusts between 90 and 120 AD. But in 1863 it was remodeled and used for Bull fighting and in 1989 they put a movable cover and heating in the arena for the spectators. Your post was great and I truly appreciated the pics and the information you provided. ThanksSheriReference
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Hello Olubukola!Thank you for the nicely done comparative images you provided in your post. It is incredible how influential Greek architecture has been to the Western world and especially to the Roman Empire. Your images provided a clear view of how both Greek and Roman architecture has impressed upon our contemporary architecture in compelling ways. Your mention of the ancient Roman amphitheater venues design still being used to day in modern day venues and arenas such as Madison Square Garden in NYC and Robert hall in London is quite fascinating. As a native New Yorker I have been to Madison Square Garden on many occasions for different events and I many times thought that the design was pretty well thought out- in how perimeter seating allows so many spectators to all get a quality view of the stage. I now find that I am even in more awe to know that such design has such an ancient origin! Thank you for your post!Sayre, H. M. (2013).
Discovering the humanities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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Awesome post, it was very informative and clearly explains why the Colosseum is one of the major architectural wonders of that time and how its architecture has been repeated in modern times. Sayre (2013), describes the structure as “a giant oval, 615 feet long, 510 feet wide, and 159 feet high, audiences, estimated at 50,000, entered and exited through its 76 vaulted arcades”. It baffles my mind to contemplate how these buildings were physically constructed, by men without the technology and tools of todays modern world. The enormity of this structures as with many other buildings in that time period is tremendous. I researched trying to find a scholarly article, to no avail, regarding what tools were actually used. I did discover the use of pulley systems powered by men and “beasts” were commonly used.
Docs mid-week post asks what features make ancient structures remarkable to people of our time. For me, I would have to say the idea that men with limited resources and tools were able to create such huge, intricate structures. It is amazing to me.TammyReference:
S Sayre., H. M. (2013). Discovering the Humanities (2 ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions
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