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The History Behind the Vitruvian Man

by October 18, 2019

The story sounds like a Dan Brown thriller: Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks contain a skillfully executed, albeit curious image.  A man with two sets of arms and legs poses in the center of a circle and square.  With one set of arms forming a V and one set of legs out-splayed, the figure’s soles and fingertips define the circumference of the circle.  With the other set of arms outstretched and legs straight, the figure defines the perimeter of the square.
Known in Italian as  L’Uomo Vitruviano—the Vitruvian man—the c. 1490 image is perhaps the most recognizable of all Leonardo’s sketches.   A simple internet search reveals literally hundreds of reproductions, adaptations, and parodies.  It may come as a surprise that this sketch, unlike others, did not spring from Leonardo’s fertile imagination, but was designed to illustrate someone else’s ideas:
[I]f a man be placed flat on his back, with his hands and feet extended, and a pair of compasses centred at his navel, the fingers and toes of his two hands and feet will touch the circumference of a circle described therefrom. And just as the human body yields a circular outline, so too a square figure may be found from it.
Da Vinci

Vitruvian Man, Leonardo da Vinci. Year c. 1490

This passage appears in Book III, chapter 1 of De Architectura, the only comprehensive work on architecture to survive from Classical Antiquity, authored by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.  It’s an interesting concept, to be sure, but what about it would inspire Leonardo to produce one of his most evocative drawings?
There is indeed much more to this story: behind the Vitruvian man stands an enigmatic builder, a learned manuscript, a legendary name, and cultural prestige.

Vitruvius qui de architectonica

So, who was the original Vitruvian man?  Who was Marcus Vitruvius Pollio?  The facts of his existence are few and the questions are many.  To begin, even his name is a conjecture. His praenomen was most likely Marcus, but we’re not certain. The cognomen Pollio is also only probable. Faventinus, an architect writing in the 3rd century CE, is believed to be the first writer to use Vitruvius’ full name. However, an alternate theory suggests that he may have been referring to two separate individuals: a Vitruvius and a Pollio.

Presumed portrait of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (80/70 B.C. circa-25 B.C.)

As with his name, almost everything else we think we know about Vitruvius is a matter of more-or-less certain extrapolation from brief autobiographical scraps in his De Architectura.
Of his background and upbringing, Vitruvius says only that his family was able to give him a good education.  Similarly, when he makes observations about the preferred education for architects, he is clearly referring to his own.  After all, in the first chapter of Book I, Vitruvius says an architect needs a wide-ranging education, which is precisely the sort of education he claims for himself in the preface to Book VI.
We would expect an architect to have working knowledge of mathematics, materials, and physics.  But what about pre-Socratic philosophy?  Indeed, Empedocles’ elemental philosophy is essential to the city planner.  Like many Classical thinkers, Vitruvius derived from Empedocles the belief that differences between human groups reflected different elemental mixtures.  The blend of elements in the Gauls, for instance, was vastly different from the corresponding blend in the Egyptians.  Therefore a building site that would be healthy for one group would be harmful to another.  Put in practical terms, Vitruvius held that a wise city planner should know how to select particular environments that promote the general health of the citizenry.
In other parts of De Architectura, Vitruvius expresses familiarity with Eratosthenes’s calculations of the circumference of the earth and Pythagoras’ philosophy of harmony.  Needless to say, Vitruvius also owes much to Aristotle.  On a basic level, Vitruvius’s statement about the three divisions of architecture —usefulness, durability, and beauty—merely specifies Aristotle’s assertion that the goal of all human endeavors is some definable “good.”

Frontispiece of De Architectura

No mere theorist, Vitruvius states that much of his know-how was learned hands-on.  “I myself know by experience,” he remarks. In parts of the work, he gives details on construction techniques, materials, and the machines used in building.  He states that he superintended the construction of a basilica in Fano.  Occasionally, he gives details that seem to come from the workshop, such as his claim that bricks should be dried for a full five years before use, whereas cut stone need only be seasoned for two.
In several passages, Vitruvius also mentions his military service.  He says he built artillery pieces for Julius Caesar, and gives detailed instructions for such weapons as ballistas and scorpions.  He even refers familiarly to how experts evaluate whether these weapons are well made: the control ropes vibrate at a certain pitch, like a well-tuned musical instrument.
A few historians have tried to identify our Vitruvius as a contemporary, Marcus Vitruvius Mamurra, possibly because Mamurra was also a military engineer and also served under Julius Caesar.  Such an identification is highly unlikely since Mamurra is believed to have died around 43-46 BCE.  Moreover, Mamurra was known for ostentation and graft.  Our Vitruvius claims that he preferred honest poverty:
I have never been eager to make money by my art,” he writes, “but have gone on the principle that slender means and a good reputation are preferable to wealth and disrepute.

An Unlikely Authority

All this makes up the merest outline of a life.  And if we look to Roman writers of the era for corroboration, the picture does not become much clearer.  Scholars have identified only five Roman writers who mention Vitruvius or his book.  These are Pliny the elder, Frontinus, Faventinus, Servius, and Sidonius.  As we shall see, how they discuss the man and his work would change as time passed.
Pliny the elder knew De Architectura and listed Vitruvius as a source in his Natural History, but doesn’t mention him by name in the text.
Vitruvius’s name also appears a few decades later in a technical report written by the Roman official Sextus Frontinus. His De Aqueductibus Urbis Romae briefly mentions a Vitruvius who had a supervisory or advisory role in pipe repair or construction.  However, Frontinus says nothing more, not even what aqueducts Vitruvius and his pipefitters worked on.  De Architectura is not mentioned at all.
A few centuries later, however, the name “Vitruvius” appears to have become culturally significant, shorthand for architectural excellence.  We can see this in an abridgement of De Architectura produced by the 3rd-4th century CE architect M. Cetius Faventinus.  His De Diversis Fabricis Architectonicae highlights the practical aspects of Vitruvius’s book and leaves out most of the learned theory.  By doing this, Faventinus created a handbook on methods and materials for a new audience.
Illustration from De Architectura

An Illustration from De Architectura. Vitruvius illustrated his theories and rules with technical drawings and examples. Source:

Vitruvius wrote for the political and philosophical elite.  Faventinus seems to have written for supervisors, builders, and contractors.  Although this change in audience is significant, even more significant is the fact that Faventinus attributed the work to Vitruvius.
In the world today it is generally held that newer is truer.  All else aside, a technical report published in 2019 is considered more reliable than a similar report from 2009.  In Classical Rome, the opposite belief held true.  Older information was considered more trustworthy because it had stood the test of time.
In attributing the summary to Vitruvius, Faventinus was emphasizing the work’s trustworthiness: it was a handbook from the golden age of Rome. It was not just information; it was Vitruvius’s timeless advice.  Copies of Faventinus spread throughout the western empire and were copied by generations of monks for the next thousand years.
Of course it could be argued that Frontinus and Faventinus were builders writing for other builders.  Even Pliny was focused on scientific issues.  It would not be unusual for such writers to mention Vitruvius or cite his work.
But what, then, are we to make of a literary critic who also cites Vitruvius while discussing poetic diction?  In the late 4th century to early 5th century CE, our fourth writer, M. Servius Honoratus, references Vitruvius in his commentaries on Virgil’s Aeneid.  In Book VI, Aeneas and his companions arrive at the Cumean Sibyl’s grotto:
Deep in the face of that Euboean crag
A cavern vast is hollowed out amain,
With hundred openings, a hundred mouths,
Whence voices flow, the Sibyl’s answering songs.  (Line 43)
In the underworld

Aeneas and the Sibyl in the Underworld. Arnold Houbraken, early 1700s

Discussing Virgil’s poetic diction, Servius cites “Vitruvius the architect” to explain Virgil’s meaning in using such words for access points as aditus and ostia.  The commentary would be reasonable only if Servius and his contemporaries believed Vitriuvius was the authoritative answer for any architectural question, whether actual or literary.
An even more lofty status is attributed to Vitruvius at the end of the fifth century CE.
In an ironic letter to a contemporary, the late Roman official and bishop Sidonius Apollinaris rhetorically equates Vitruvius’s mastery of building to Orpheus’s mastery of music, Aesculapius’s mastery of healing, or Euclid’s mastery of geometry (Book IV, chapter 3, 5).  In a different letter, he tells his reader that Vitruvius’s book, likely Faventius’s digest, is indispensable for domestic repairs and construction.

Nature as Architect


Robert Fludd – The Mirror of the Whole of Nature and the Image of Art.

As historians have suggested, Vitruvius’ status as the leading authority on architecture persisted well into the Italian Renaissance. Whatever else was lost in the collapse of the Roman empire in the west, the concept of Rome as the apex of cultural prestige certainly survived.  Likewise, we know that Faventinus’s digest of Vitruvius survived.
Those who aspired to create monumental works like those of the Roman empire, had much to learn from Vitruvius.  Certainly the breadth of learning he demonstrated, along with his hard-won practical know-how appealed to Renaissance thinkers like Leonardo.  They considered him one of their own.
Vitruvius’s book is not just about architecture, after all, but about architects and builders as well.  What he writes about architects surely appealed to Renaissance architects and engineers—even part-timers like Leonardo.  To Vitruvius the architect had a hallowed heritage, stretching back to the framing of the universe:
The heaven revolves steadily round earth and sea on the pivots at the ends of its axis. The architect at these points was the power of Nature, and she put the pivots there, to be, as it were, centres, one of them above the earth and sea at the very top of the firmament and even beyond the stars composing the Great Bear, the other on the opposite side under the earth in the regions of the south. Round these pivots (termed in Greek πόλοι) as centres, like those of a turning lathe, she formed the circles in which the heaven passes on its everlasting way. In the midst thereof, the earth and sea naturally occupy the central point.
Nature itself, according to Vitruvius, is an architect. The architect is, in a certain sense, carrying on and trying to imitate the works of Nature. It is not difficult to imagine why the work in which this passage appears would inspire Leonardo so many centuries later.

The Palace of Knossos

by August 9, 2019

When we think about the birth of western civilization, we recall Knossos and its stunning palace. Crete is called the cradle of Europe, after all, and Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete, is reputed to be Europe’s oldest city!
Knossos is thought to be the first settlement in the Neolithic period, though it is in fact, one of many Neolithic remains scattered across Crete. The site of Knossos is multilayered, revealing inhabitation for many, many years. From humble origins as an encampment, it eventually became the location of the most famous palace on the island, the Palace of Knossos.
The Palace of Knossos

The Palace of Knossos, Crete. Source: Pavel Timofeev / Adobe.

Founding a civilization
The Palace at Knossos flourished between 2700-1100BC when the Minoans shone as a prime example of Bronze Age Aegean civilization, both on the island of Crete and on other smaller Aegean islands. This palace, as well as the one at Phaistos, is remarkable due to the magnitude of its construction.
At the height of its power, the Palace of Knossos boasted the skills and resources of its inhabitants. These included oil, wine, and wool. Another source of revenue for the palace was the expansion of trade; the island of Crete was a humming hub of international import and export, with goods being shipped between Egypt, Italy, and the islands of the Cyclades.
Minoan fresco, showing a fleet and settlement

Minoan fresco, showing a fleet and settlement

The beginning of Knossos
What happened to Knossos, and why is it a ruin now? Well, the first Neolithic palace site dates around 7,000BC; these were wattle and daub structures and would have created a small village like enclosure.
The inhabitants of the hill-site eventually began using mud-bricks that were set upon stone bases. These houses usually had several rooms, with walls at right angles and centered doorways. They also had huge stones supporting areas that were under the greatest stress. The inner walls were smoothed over with mud-plaster, and flat roofs of interwoven branches were covered in mud. Inside, the rooms had earthen-hearths that were usually located in the center of the room.
ancient vases

Millennia-old amphorae in Knossos that have been pieced back together. (Ioannis Syrigos)

By the Middle Neolithic period, 5,000-4,000BC, the settlement housed between 500-1000 people. At this point, wood was being used in construction and houses became more family-oriented. Cretan family-life and society had arrived.
The Height of the Palace of Knossos
Around this time the first signs of the palace began to emerge. This ‘Great House’, as it’s known, was 100m2, built from stone, and had five rooms. Given the size and layout, it was more likely to be for public use rather than private/domestic occupation.
Palace Colonnades

The new palace made extensive use of colonnades. (Ioannis Syrigos)

Fast-forward a few centuries to around the second millennium BC and you’ll see the construction of first Cretan palaces that we might recognize. Earthquakes destroyed these palaces around 1,700BC, but they were soon rebuilt even grander than before.
At its height, Knossos covered a massive 3-acre site. It had an enormous staircase, staterooms on the top floor, sixteen storage rooms for pithoi (large earthenware containers), and an impressive plumbing system that included bathrooms, toilets, and drainage!
Reconstruction of the palace at Knossos

Reconstruction of the palace at Knossos

The palace’s construction included both stonework and timber, the rooms were lit with light-wells, and the wooden columns were ornate, not just structural. Adding to the majesty of the palace were brightly colored frescoes that depicted everyday Minoan life, some of which are still visible today.
All this splendor was attributed to the mighty sea empire that King Minos developed. According to Herodotus, this powerful empire lasted for hundreds of years, reaching its peak around 1,450BC before a series of events began its steady decline.
throne room

Throne Room, Palace of Knossos, Crete, Greece. Ed Freeman / Getty Images

The Decline of the Palace of Knossos
Much like the story of Pompeii, Knossos fell victim to a cataclysmic event; the volcanic eruption on the island of Thira (Santorini) c. 1,370BC. At the time, mainland Greeks had begun to inhabit the island, bringing with them their influences, both artistic and military.
Famous fresco

The famous Ladies in Blue fresco that once adorned the walls of Knossos palace. (Ioannis Syrigos)

After the eruption, it’s thought that successive invasions by the Mycenaeans brought about the final blows. Soon, as with much of the island, the palace lay in ruins. The site was abandoned and it passed into the dusty pages of history. That is, until the early 20th century when a man named Sir Arthur Evans, inspired by stories of a Minotaur and fabled kings, began exploring. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Colosseum: A Symbol of Gory Glory

by May 29, 2019

By Mónica Correa, contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
While the Roman Empire bequeathed us many splendid structures, from the Pantheon in Italy to the Maison Carrée in France, there is one architectural wonder that is no doubt, the most famous of all Roman creations. The Colosseum, with its architecture, detailed structural elements and impressive history, manages to inspire awe to this very day.
Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, it is the largest amphitheater ever built and, interestingly, has only been called “the Colosseum” since eighth century.
Construction started under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, with the opening ceremonies taking place under his son Titus in 80. The inaugural celebrations lasted 100 days and thousands of men and animals were slaughtered. While the Colosseum was being used it regularly housed massive performances and events that satisfied the Roman taste for savage entertainment.
Painting of gladiators

Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down) by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872

The Colosseum’s Construction
The location of the Colosseum is very significant. Vespasian decided to build it on the grounds of Nero’s Golden House as a sign of the emperor’s fall from grace. The spot also had the added benefit of being in the center of Rome.
It took a decade to build the Colosseum and the cost of construction is unknown. However, an inscription found on the site states that funding came from Rome’s military conquests. Although its architects and builders are unknown, some records suggest that workers may have been prisoners of war.
Rome Map

Map of Rome during Antiquity

The inside of the arena measured 278 by 177 feet and was originally surrounded by seating in four separate tiers which could accommodate, according to one late Roman description, 87,000 spectators.
The seating was arranged according to the stratified nature of Roman society. Special boxes providing the best views of the arena were located at the north and south end for the Emperor and the Vestal Virgins, respectively. Flanking them at the same level was a broad platform or podium for the senatorial class, who were allowed to bring their own chairs. The names of some fifth century senators can still be seen carved into the stonework, presumably reserving areas for their use.
Illustration of the Colosseum

Cross-section from the Lexikon der gesamten Technik (1904)

 Diagram of the levels of seating

Diagram of the levels of seating

The non-senatorial noble class or knights (equites) occupied the maenianum primum, the tier above the senators. The next level up, the maenianum secundum, was originally reserved for ordinary Roman citizens (plebeians). This was divided into two sections, with the lower part (the immum) for wealthy citizens, and the upper part (the summum) for poor citizens.
Later on a gallery was built for women and slaves. Some groups, however, were never allowed into the Colosseum. These included gravediggers, former gladiators and, of course, actors.
The Colosseum’s Expansion
While most of the Colosseum was finished before Vespasian’s death in 79, his sons and successors completed the structure.
Coin commemorating the inauguration

Sestertius of Titus celebrating the inauguration of the Colosseum (minted 80 AD).

Titus, the eldest son who ruled from 79 to 81, finished the construction for the grand opening in 80. Domitian, who succeeded him and ruled from 81 to 96, was responsible for the fourth floor, a wooden story mainly used for storage, as well as another seating gallery.
The most significant addition made by Domitian, however, was the Hypogeum, an underground complex beneath the arena. It was designed and built around two years after the Colosseum was inaugurated. Animals, performers and stagehands used this important structure, navigating the tunnels when something or someone was needed in the arena. Workers could use rudimentary elevators and trapdoors covered by sand access the stage. The Hypogeum was dark, lit only by smoky oil lanterns.
The hypogeum

The Colosseum arena, showing the hypogeum now filled with walls. The walls were added early in the Colosseum’s existence when it was decided it would no longer be flooded and used for naval battles

Also constructed after inauguration, the awning was added as a canopy that could cover a large section of the bleachers. Its goal was to shade audiences, protecting them from the sun.
The Colosseum’s Deterioration
In 217, the Colosseum was badly damaged by a major fire that was caused by lightning, according to Dio Cassius. The inferno destroyed the wooden upper levels and it was not fully repaired until about 240. It underwent further repairs in 250 or 252 and again in 320, but never again returned to its former glory.
Colosseum's fall

Interior of the Colosseum, Rome (1832) by Thomas Cole, showing the Stations of the Cross around the arena and the extensive vegetation

In the following centuries, earthquakes damaged its structure. The most significant occurred in 134, causing the outer wall on the south side completely collapsed.
The Colosseum’s Modern Symbolism
In the beginning, this structure had one important goal: to be the stage of the gladiatorial games. However, as the society and culture evolved, so did the significance and purpose of the Colosseum.
From 1928 to 2000, a fragment of its distinctive colonnade was displayed on the medals awarded to victorious athletes at the Olympic Games, as a symbol of the modern Games’ ancient reference.
Lights on the Colosseum

The Colosseum lights up in protest to the death penalty.

The Colosseum has also become a symbol of the international campaign against capital punishment. As a gesture on their position against the death penalty, authorities change the color of the Colosseum’s illumination from white to gold whenever a condemned person gets their sentence commuted or is released, or if a jurisdiction abolishes the death penalty.
Today, receiving thousands of tourists from around the world, the Colosseum stands as a powerful reminder of the ancient world, its glory… and gory history.

The 13 Most Important Buildings in Ancient Alexandria, Egypt

by May 27, 2019

An important center of Hellenistic civilization, Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt, Roman and Byzantine Egypt for almost 1,000 years. The city was founded around c. 332 BC by the Macedonian King, Alexander the Great, during his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire.
A famous Macedonian drinker

Mosaic of Alexander the Great

At one point, Alexandria became the largest city in the world and, for some centuries more, was second only to Rome. It became Egypt’s main Greek city, with Greek people from diverse backgrounds, as well as the largest urban Jewish community in the world.
Estimates of the total population range from 216,000 to 500,000 making it one of the largest cities ever built before the Industrial Revolution and the largest pre-industrial city that was not an imperial capital.
As one can imagine, such an important and large ancient center warranted important and large structures! Fortunately for us, the historian Strabo described the principle constructions, as seen from a ship entering the great harbor.
Harbor of Alexandria, Egypt

Artist rendition of ancient Alexandria, Egypt

So without further adieu, here are the 13 Most Important Buildings in Ancient Alexandria, Egypt:
1. The Royal Palaces. They filled the northeast part of town and occupied the ridge of Lochias, which shut in the Great Harbor on the east. Lochias (the modern Pharillon) has almost entirely disappeared into the sea, together with the palaces, the “Private Port,” and the island of Antirrhodus. Unfortunately this is the result of land subsidence and massive sinking which occurred throughout the northeast coast of Africa.

2. The Great Theater. This was used by Julius Caesar as a fortress, where he withstood a siege from the city mob after he took Egypt after the battle of Pharsalus.

Map of the city

Map of Ancient Alexandria, Egypt

3. The Poseidon, or Temple of the Sea God, close to the theater.
4. The Timonium built by Marc Antony.
Bust of Marc Antony

Bust of Marc Antony

5. The Emporium (Exchange).
6. The Apostases (Magazines).
7. The Navalia (Docks), which were west of the Timonium, along the seafront.
8. Great Caesareum, behind the Emporium by which stood the two great obelisks, which become known as “Cleopatra’s Needles.” (These were eventually transported to Paris, New York City and London). This temple became the Patriarchal Church, however some ancient remains of the temple have been discovered. Parts of the actual Caesareum that were not eroded by the waves are under the houses, lining the new seawall.
Cleopatras Needle

The “Cleopatra’s Needle” in London, Cleopatra’s Needle, Central Park, New York City, Cleopatra’s Needle, Paris, France

9. The Gymnasium and the Palaestra are both inland in the eastern half of the town; sites unknown.
10. The Temple of Saturn; alexandria west.
11. The Mausolea of Alexander (Soma) and the Ptolemies in one ring-fence, near the point of intersection of the two main streets.
12. The Musaeum with its famous Library of Alexandria (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) and theater in the same region; site unknown.
Library of Alexandria

Illustration of what might have been the Musaeum.

13. The Serapeum of Alexandria, the most famous of all Alexandrian temples. Strabo tells us that this stood in the west of the city. Recent discoveries place it near “Pompey’s Pillar,” which was an independent monument erected to commemorate Diocletian’s siege of the city.
While a few other public buildings on the mainland are known, there is little information as to their actual position. None, however, are as famous as the structure that stood on the eastern point of Pharos island. The Great Lighthouse, another of the seven wonders of the ancient world, stood at 138 meters (453 feet) high. It took 12 years to complete and served as a prototype for all later lighthouses in the world.
Lighthouse of Alexandria

Pharos of Alexandria, Egypt

The Pharos lighthouse was destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th century, making it the second longest surviving ancient wonder, after the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World “Reconstructed” with GIFs

by May 7, 2019

Finally technology is being put to good use!
The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World was a list of must-see sites for Ancient Greek tourists. Compiled by Antipater of Sidon, a poet in 2nd-century-BCE Greece, with later contributions by figures such as the mathematician Philon of Byzantium, the list remains an important piece of intangible heritage today.
Sadly, only one of those ancient wonders is still standing. Fortunately technology has come to the rescue so that modern classics-lovers can have the chance to visit the structures that Antipater first recommended.
Check out the reconstructed the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, so you can see how the ruins originally looked:
A feat of ingenuity and engineering and served as a Rhodian symbol of victory. The Colossus of Rhodes was erected in 280 BCE but was toppled by an earthquake in 226 BCE.
2. The Great Pyramid of Giza
The oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering present-day El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.
3. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
An ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and vines, resembling a large green mountain constructed of mud bricks, and said to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon, near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq.
4. Lighthouse of Alexandria
A lighthouse built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom, during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (280–247 BC), and was estimated to be 100 metres (330 ft) in overall height. For many centuries it was one of the tallest man-made structures in the world.
5. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
A tomb built between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire, and his sister-wife Artemisia II of Caria. The structure was designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythius of Priene.
A giant seated figure, about 13 m (43 ft) tall,[1] made by the Greek sculptor Phidias around 435 BC at the sanctuary of Olympia, Greece, and erected in the Temple of Zeus there. It represented the god Zeus on a cedarwood throne ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold and precious stones. Lost in the 5th AD.
7. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
A Greek temple dedicated to an ancient, local form of the goddess Artemis (associated with Diana, a Roman goddess). It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey). It was completely rebuilt three times.
Pretty exciting results!
Of course to get these excellent images, researchers commissioned by budgetdirect had to find extensive visual and written information on each wonder; including when it was built, which civilization built it and for what purpose. They gathered information around the specific features of each wonder; such as building materials, measurements and key architectural features. These details were then backed up with hi-resolution images of drawings, sketches or any other available imagery in the archives. Once this research was compiled, it was passed along to architectural design duo Keremcan Kirilmaz and Erdem Batirbek, under the guidance of NeoMam’s art director.
The final Photoshop files were sent to motion graphics artist Fractal Motion, who were in charge of creating the animations. This complex process involves dividing up the images, then animating them using a tool in Cinema 4D software called Polyfx before refining it all in After Effects.

The Best of Roman Architecture

by March 27, 2019

By Mark Miller, Contributing Writer, Ancient Origins
Ancient Rome borrowed from ancient Greece for architecture, among other things, but then innovated and invented its own architectural features and building types. Roman architecture made a statement with its imposing public edifices: We are a world power, and we have the wealth, technology and manpower to dominate in culture as well as politics.
The Romans used new construction techniques and materials and their own designs along with existing architectural ideas to come up with a new catalog of structures. They invented the triumphal arch, monumental aqueduct, the amphitheater, basilica, granary building, and residential housing block.
The Pantheon

The Pantheon is an iconic example of beautiful Roman architecture.

History of Roman Architecture
The Roman state, both the republic and empire, backed, financed, and organized many such buildings around the Roman sphere of influence around 2,000 years ago. The edifices were built so well, with such durable materials, that many of these beautiful structures still stand.
People still marvel at the Roman architecture examples of the Pantheon, the Roman Colosseum and other such spectacular places, wonderfully constructed aqueducts in Spain and Italy, 200-some amphitheaters in many old cities, and a multitude of other edifices stretching from Spain to Egypt and across northern Africa.
The Colosseum

A 4×4 segment panorama of the Colosseum at dusk.

In many of their buildings, the Romans used columns and arches instead of post-and-beam construction. Arches could bear more weight, so the buildings were bigger than their Greek or Egyptian counterparts, for example.
Roman Columns
The Romans borrowed the classical orders of the Greeks: Corinthian, Doric and Ionic. The Romans favored Corinthian even very late in the Classical period. Thus, many of their buildings had a classical Greek look. But the Romans would make the capital at the top of the column even more decorative than the Greek capital. They also made more decorative cornices.
Roman Columns

Types of columns: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

The Romans also made a composite capital out of Ionic and Corinthian designs. They innovated the Tuscan column, which fused Doric with a small capital, slenderer shaft and a molded base. The Romans used the Tuscan columns in their homes and verandas.
Roman columns were monolithic. The Greeks, on the other hand, used several stacked drums. Columns were an important aspect of Greek and Roman architecture because they often fronted buildings. When a person approached many structures and monuments, the first thing he saw was an expanse of columns across the front. Romans even used columns when they had developed technology that made them obsolete. An example of this type of building is the Pantheon.
Interior of the Pantheon

The interior of the Pantheon in Rome, a concrete mausoleum with a beautiful dome and rows of columns.

Roman Architectural Material
The Romans most often used stone, several types of marble, and concrete in their structures. Their concrete was of a special type that has lasted two millennia. Some modern concrete has not lasted nearly as long. Ancient Origins published an article on Roman concrete in December 2014 titled “Researchers discover secret recipe of Roman concrete that allowed it to endure for over 2,000 years.” The article stated:
“It’s been known for a while that the volcanic sand used in Roman concrete and mortar made their buildings last for so long. Now a new study by a group of engineers and engineering researchers has discovered the precise recipe that made the Roman concrete endure much longer than concrete used today.”
Roman Concrete

Looking at Roman concrete close up.

The Roman Forum
The Romans built many public and civic buildings and monuments around a forum, which was a paved public square. Some larger Roman cities had more than one forum.
An interesting type of public building the Romans built there were the bath complexes, large structures with domes, columns, pools, and open spaces. They also built smaller baths at villas, townhouses and forts. The public baths had three big rooms, the frigidarium or cold bath, the tepidarium or warm bath, and the caldarium or hot bath. Some of the imperial baths or thermae also had steam baths and sauna-like rooms.
Bath Baths

View of the Great Bath, part of the Roman Baths complex, a site of historical interest in the city of Bath, England. The baths, based on the local hot springs, were built during the Roman occupation of Britain and have become a major touristic site.

Fantastic Structures of Ancient Rome
The fantastic structures of ancient Rome have been a testament to their people’s power and wealth. Roman architecture was meant to convey Rome’s dominance and cultural superiority. Rome was saying it had the wealth, technology, and manpower to build such huge, wonderfully constructed edifices. The Romans built audacious structures that no modern architect or construction company would attempt and no government agency would approve.