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Once an ordinary building in Rome originally built in 27 BC by the statesman Agrippa, now a wonder of the modern world. After two fires and 145 years, the emperor Hadrian built the dome and round hall, which the Pantheon is known for today. Around 128 AD, the Pantheon was finished, disregarding some minor alterations made in the early third century. The Pantheon stands elite, possessing appearance, size, and architecture of unparalleled equality.
Lined with Corinthian columns, the porch of the Pantheon is most obviously a Greek influence. What makes this structure remarkable though, is the dome, which integrates a perfect sphere. The dome is exactly 142 feet tall at its peak, and 142 feet wide. This suggests the engineers, design crew, architect, and any other person involved, created a minutely exact architecture. Also in this assumption is geometrical excellence. Mathematicians designed the structure geometrically square. The Romans have a signature style of rectangular shapes, which the Pantheon uses, along with influence of geometry (sphere).
To make the construction seem even more magnificent, it was 1800 years ago. The quality and preciseness of workmanship known to roman architecture was no exception to the Pantheon. The concrete walls of the dome are a mystery today. The exact method of construction is unknown, but two common assumptions are widely accepted. William Macdonald, the author of The Pantheon, suggests two factors, “The excellent quality of mortar used in the concrete and the tedious selection and grading of the aggregate material. The concrete ranges from heavy basalt in the foundations of the building and in the lower portions of the walls, through brick and tufa (a stone formed from volcanic dust), to the light pumice toward the center of the vault. Clearly an architectural masterpiece” (Chap 3).
The Roman mortar used to build the pantheon starts with one of the first man-made products relying on chemical reactions, lime. Lime originated as a coating to strengthen walls of homes. Mixed with volcanic ash and dried, the substance is rock hard, creating mortar. The Romans dedicated so much time to mortar development and use in architecture. This is evident in the construction of the Pantheon. Still in use, Roman knowledge of mortar and concrete is unsurpassed. Amazingly, some methods are still unknown.
The pantheon concept penetrated the Roman Empire in many ways. There are many domed rotundas in Europe. One in Scotland, known as Arthur’s Oon, was a shrine to victory. By the middle of the second century, all circular domed buildings were deemed the by-product of the exalted concept of the Pantheon. Tombs replicated the dome structure and sometimes the oculus, or “eye”.
The eye of the dome was revolutionary. The Pantheon might be the first structure to focus on the interior instead of the exterior. The Romans show a renaissance in art and ideas, nonetheless, by integrating the oculus to accent certain design aspects of the interior. The interior was magnificent in color and design. According to the pictures and text of Microsoft Encarta, the imagery of the heavens and cosmos were indeed powerful.
In any event, the domed rotunda became a common form of imperial tomb. The Romans looked on the Pantheon with great admiration and the replication of smaller less expensive models became the tombs of smaller less exalted Romans.
Hadrian, the emperor during the erection, had the Roman ideal, superiority. The procedures used to shape the Pantheon insinuate a desire for perfection and timelessness. The Roman wonder still stands today. There is much more to this monumental structure than meets the eye. Without the Pantheon’s geometrical design, mortar techniques, influence of the domed rotunda as a holy place, and the biasing of interior as opposed to exterior design, who knows where Roman society would have ended up.
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Domes, Pantheon, Rome, Vault, Rotunda, Oculus, Ancient Roman architecture, Concrete, Pantheon, Renaissance architecture
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