Roman architecture, sculpture and literature were strongly influenced by Greek models. However, the Roman buildings were large and ornate with a grandeur of their own. The Roman builders had concrete available unlike the Greeks. Another great advantage for the Romans was the use of the semi-circular arches to form vaults and domes. The great Pantheon shows many examples of these. Roman builders could not use marble all the time, because it was expensive and there was a limited amount. However there was a plentiful supply of terracotta, stone and brick. Early in their development they invented the material concrete. It was made by mixing pazzolana, a strong volcanic material with rubble and a mixture of limes. The concrete was used to make walls, domes, vaulted rooves of solid concrete, concrete with brick ribs and faced structure with marble, or mosaic. Tools such as a plumb bob, a bronze square, bronze dividers, bronze foot rule and chisels were used in building.

Roads were very important to the Roman Empire and they had a great ability to build roads. They were the first to build roads on the foundation basis. The roads were paved and they had ditches on either side so water could run off. There are roads still standing which were built by the Romans. They were wide enough to take a Roman chariot with two horses. There were laybys to let other chariots past. Roads were used often and we know this because of the grooves left by the chariots. Communication was good in the Roman Empire due to the roads so architectural ideas spread fast.

One of the main uses of the arch was to build aqueducts which carried water from the hills to big tanks or cisterns in the cities. They contained pipes lined with cement, on the top of the arches, which carried the water. The pipes were covered to stop the water evaporating and to prevent contamination in the water. Smaller architectural works included triumphal arches, pillars of victory and fountains. Arches and pillars were built to recognise the great achievements of emperors and generals.

In Rome there were the Arches of Titus, (built to celebrate the capture of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Emperor Titus) the Arches of Constantine, Septimus Severus, at Ancona the Arch of Trajan and many more. The arches were either single or triple, and usually decorated with sculptured pictures or scenes. Columns of Carinthiann or composite style were built as part of the arch. The most famous pillar of victory in Rome is Trajan's Column. This is a Roman Doric style pillar, 155 feet high. It is freely sculptured.

The Romans built hundreds of fountains in their cities, which were public and private. The fountains were made because the Romans loved running water, the cool spray, and also they were built in memory of events and distinguished people. Many fountains were devoted to certain gods, just like altars. In a typical town in the Roman Empire, the wealthy people lived in large houses while the ordinary Romans lived in blocks of flats called insulas.

The Houses

The houses were fairly big and had no windows facing onto the street in order to keep out the noise and dust. The Atrium was the entrance hall to the house which had a pool to collect water from a hole in the roof,designed to let the rain water in. This water was used for cooking, cleaning, washing and heat. It was held in underground tanks.

The house was decorated with murals and mosaics. There was a roofed pillared walkway around the peristyle (garden). Other rooms included toilets, kitchen, sitting rooms, and changing rooms. The dinning rooms they had were called tricliniums which was normaly found on the right side of the peristyle. A slave serves the food and cuts it up, while the diners eat with their fingers, lying on couches beside the table. The kitchen is next door, and the lavatory was usualy next to the kitchen. In this way water supply and drains were close together. The drains flowed into the sewer under the streets.

The Insulae

The ordinary Roman (pleb) lived in an apartment block called an Insula. These rose up to 6 stories high. There were approximately 46,600 of these in Rome. There was no running water in the insula. People had to use public toilets and fountains. The apartments had windows without glass but in winter they had wooden shutters.

They were built of bricks which were made from mud and straw of bad quality. There was no form of heating or cooking. Many people living there would eat in bars.


There were 120 bars/pubs in Pompeii. Wine, figs, dates, nuts were all kept in strange holes in the counter for sale.


These were in Pompeii. Troughs were used to wash clothes.


Grinders were made from sandstone and granite.


Found on walls, written about elections.

The Roman Temple

The Roman temples were much the same as the Greek's style of temples. They worshipped the same type of Gods also. The temples were built at one side of the forum in a typical Roman town. The temples had columns and friezes just like the Greek's temples. The frieze was a piece of artwork showing Roman life.