The Roman Architectural Revolution, also known as the Concrete Revolution, was the widespread use of previously underutilized architectural forms such as the arch, vault, and dome in Roman architecture. Amphitheatres, aqueducts, baths, bridges, circuses, dams, domes, harbors, temples, and theatres were among them. All over the Roman world, architects were taking advantage of these new technologies to create buildings that had never been seen before.
Amphitheatres are large open spaces with a roof made up of a frame of wood or metal columns supporting a canvas covering. The pillars are often painted white to reflect sunlight and to look more impressive when illuminated at night. In Rome, these venues were used for athletic competitions and public events such as military drills and executions. They could hold 50,000 people or more.
Aqueducts are underground channels that carry water from a source (usually a natural spring) to communities or farms that lack sufficient rainfall. An example can be seen in Rome at the site of the Aqua Appia which carried water from a source on Mount Soracte to the outskirts of the city where it supplied many small communities along its route with water for farming.
Baths are rooms with walls, floors, and sometimes ceilings covered with smooth plaster or painted colors to make them feel less gloomy. They usually have one or more pools of hot water for washing clothes or body parts such as feet or hands.
The arch, vault, and dome were key architectural and engineering triumphs of the Romans. They also employed concrete to construct massive structures. The stadium and triumphal arch were created by the Romans. They were also skilled in building roads, bridges, and aqueducts.
Stadium: this was a large open space for athletic events. The Romans invented the sport of modern-day football and used it as a means of entertainment during religious festivals and other public events. The first Roman stadiums did not have any structural integrity and were only about 200 feet long and 100 feet wide. But later stadiums built for the Olympics were larger and designed with strong internal support systems.
Triumphal arches: these were monumental gates erected outside cities to mark important events such as victories over the enemy or elections. The first triumphal arch was built around 30 B.C. by Lucius Cassius Longinus as a gift for Caesar's victory over the Gauls. It was 14 feet high with Ionic and Corinthian columns supporting a gilded roof sculpture. Later archaized versions included those by Michelangelo (1505) and Bernini (1667).
Vault: this is the curved ceiling of a room or building underfloor construction. The word "vault" comes from the Latin word vacus meaning empty.
The Architectural Revolution That Enabled the Colosseum The discovery of concrete and vaulted arches allowed for the rapid building of such a vast edifice. Before these inventions, builders used wood and stone to construct buildings, which were only able to be small or medium sized. Concrete allows for larger structures because it's strong yet lightweight, and iron arches support the weight of the structure without using any timber.
The Industrial Revolution that Provided Workers to Build It Although many slaves were used in its construction, the majority of workers who built the Colosseum were not. Many of these people were prisoners of war or poor farmers forced to work for little or no pay under threat of death if they refused.
The Empire That Needed It To Be Built Quickly For military purposes, the Colosseum was completed in just over three years at a cost of about $15 million (about $150 million in today's money). Its size required a large number of workers with specialized skills who could be easily recruited and paid. The city of Rome had several factories where concrete could be mixed and tools made for the construction industry as well as areas where gladiators fought each other to the death (which is why the Colosseum is sometimes called the "Gladiator School").
It employed new materials, including Roman concrete, and newer technology, like as the arch and dome, to construct buildings that were usually sturdy and well-engineered. Throughout the empire, large numbers of them have remained in the same shape, sometimes complete and continuing in use to this day. They include government offices, temples, libraries, amphitheaters, and private dwellings.
Concrete is a mixture of sand, gravel, stone, cement, and water. The word comes from the Latin word for lime, concretus, because the original concrete was a hard mass used for building foundations.
Over time, the word came to mean any material composed of such a mixture. Concrete today is used almost exclusively for construction; it is useful because it can be molded into any shape and will not break or wear away like wood does. The ancient Romans invented a number of techniques for using concrete, such as for bridges, walls, and floors. Some modern versions still use parts concrete, but most now use steel instead.
The first written reference to concrete appears in a poem by Lucilius, who described it as a "new invention by which structures can be raised higher than before." It was made with limestone mixed with pozzolana (a type of volcanic ash), which gives it its white color. The poet also mentioned that it needed to be watered daily or it would dry out.