Friday, July 22, 2016

Roman Architectural Innovations

An associate professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, Dr. Yaron Eliav teaches a number of courses in Jewish studies. Dr. Yaron Eliav also teaches coursework on the archaeology of the Roman Mediterranean.

Over the years, archaeologic finds have revealed a rich architectural tradition in the Mediterranean regions of the Roman Empire. Roman engineers were responsible for a number of architectural innovations, including the use of volcanic Italian sand in concrete. First introduced in the 2nd century BCE, Roman concrete was incredibly strong and demonstrate the ability to set underwater. In addition to opening up new structural possibilities, Roman concrete allowed designers to push the limits of their creativity.

Another major Roman architectural innovation is the true arch, which consists of wedge-shaped blocks with a keystone holding them in place. Compared with its predecessor, the corbeled arch, the true arch provided a great deal of structural support for large buildings. True arches were able to adopt wide or narrow configurations, allowing for flexibility in design.

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