Arches and Domes
by Arianna Gomez
[student, Rome Sketchbook course, Spring 2012]
Romans were the first to develop the potential of the arch and the dome. The use of arches allowed more weight to be carried with less material, they were able to place brick arches 50 yards apart whereas the greeks were forced to use stone columns arranged every 7 yards to keep structural integrity. The Roman engineers realized that a dome is merely a series of arches bulit together around a single centre.
Beyond the use of arches in churches and other buildings, they were also used to construct the great Roman acqueducts. In ancient monuments and acqueducts, supporting arches are usually arranged in groups of three. They have also been used to construct bridges, a system which is still used today. Domes were used to increase the open space in public buildings. Examples of this can be found in the baths of Diocletian and Caracalla. Another important use of the arch is in the triumphal arch, of which a good example can be seen in the Arch of Constantine. Triumphal arches were used to commemorate victories in war and celebrate the general or emperor who won that victory. The largest and most famous dome of ancient Rome is that of Hadrian's Pantheon.