Construction materials used in Greek and Roman theatre


The ground why I chose this subject is because in a category treatment on Roman Arches we found out how arches are constructed. We found out about the construct of a “Keystone” which supports the weight of the walls on both sides, which at the clip of building say ab initio supported by wooden beams. No cementing stuffs were used ; the chief strength that holds the construction together is gravitation. I found this really interesting and it made me desire to research the topic of building stuffs in greater item.

I have earlier visited the Sun temple in Konark, Oddissa every bit good as Junagarh Fort in Junagarh, Gujrat. Both these are really different from this construction built in Ancient Roman times but are besides mostly built of monolithic stones cut for building. Since so I have found myself inquiring about cohesive stuffs used in such monolithic constructions, so long before the development of modern component.

Even in our academic trip to Agra I was fascinated by any and all grounds of such stuffs that I could happen. I was drawn to the ruined parts of all the edifices we saw including the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort intensifying my involvement in what lies under the smooth surface of amazing architecture.

Even though the Taj, Junagarh Fort, Konark Sun Temple, Agra Fort and Roman Theatre are unrelated in footings of clip, influence, manner and location they are related in my head and have strengthened my captivation with edifice stuffs. I have found mention albeit somewhat obscure, in some books in the library viz: World Architecture by Paul Hamlyn, Key Movement of the History of Architecture by Millon Henri, A Development of Theatre by A. Nicoll, A history of Architecture. Other beginnings I found were some of import online picture and web links.

Materials Used in Ancient Greek Architecture

Ancient Greek architecture utilized many types of marble and limestone.

Wood and Clay

Grecian edifices in the colonisation period ( 8th to 6th century BC ) were constructed of wood and bricks made from clay. Like the constructions themselves, really few written beginnings about these early edifices have survived. Princeton University sheds visible radiation by explicating that wood was chiefly used for structural supports and roof beams and clay bricks were used for the walls. Although thatch was used as roofing for many places, the antediluvian Greeks besides used roof tiles made from clay.


Limestone was cultivated from preies and favored by designers as it is easy to cut. Perikles, an designer who oversaw several undertakings including the building of the Parthenon ( 447 to 432 B.C. ) and other memorials atop the Akropolis, chose to utilize limestone. He oversaw its extraction while oversing the creative persons who shaped each piece on location before it was moved to the edifice site for arrangement. Limestone was chiefly used in saving sums in temple alleviation slabs. However, limestone is delicate and can check more than other substances, which is why marble was normally preferred.

Pentelikon Marble

Harmonizing to Litos Online, Pentelikon marble was common in ancient preies and was widely used in architecture and cosmetic sculpting, particularly for completing surfaces. This marble type was used in well-known constructions such as the Erechtheum, the Theseum, the Propylaea of Acropolis, the temple of Olympus Zeus, in parts of the Parthenon, and legion other memorials and temples throughout ancient Greece. Pentelikon marble was white at the clip of its usage in ancient building. Today this marble has some grey colour to it.

Pink of Epirus Limestone

As its name suggests, this type of limestone was quarried in ancient times in Epirus and is identified by a xanthous colour with light sunglassess of pink that contain shafts of ruddy and grey venas running through it. This type of limestone was used in little sums to supply cosmetic touches of colour. Today this marble has retained its colour and is used in the interior suites of royal abodes and in the veneers of the anteroom of the Archaeological Museum of Athens.


The Romans made concrete by blending calcium hydroxide and volcanic stone. For submerged constructions, calcium hydroxide and volcanic ash were assorted to organize howitzer, and this howitzer and volcanic tufa were packed into wooden signifiers. The saltwater immediately triggered a hot chemical reaction. The calcium hydroxide was hydrated — incorporating H2O molecules into its construction — and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together.

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The Romans did non contrive the arch, but their development of it enabled them to the full to work their preference for deciding unlikely state of affairss by huge disbursal of labour.

( Illustration by John Pittaway from Picture Reference Ancient Romans, Brockhampton Press 1970 )

The Romans took from the Greeks the three orders of architecture, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, based on different signifiers of column and the capital which surmounted it, and added a loanblend of their ain, known as Composite. That they could indulge their architectural aspirations was due to the beyond doubt Roman innovation of concrete. Its footing was pozzolana, a chocolate-colored volcanic Earth originally found near the Grecian colony of Puteoli, and later discovered in huge measures around Rome.

Wall construction( From Helen and Richard Leacroft, The Buildings of Ancient Rome, Brockhampton Press ‘69 )

Pozzolana was used to do howitzer and besides, when assorted with lime and beef uping stuffs such as french friess of stone and broken brick, concrete. Judicious usage of bricks and concrete together enabled massive, lasting constructions to be built. Once concrete had taken the topographic point of rubble as the filling of a wall, it was possible to utilize irregularly molded rocks as facing, with classs of brick to adhere it. This was known asmusical composition incertum. Withmusical composition reticulatumsquare-based pyramids of rock were inserted with the caputs confronting inwards. A farther development wasmusical composition testaceum, in which triangular baked bricks were used.

Opus reticulatum

Opus reticulatum, Pompeii. ( VRoma: Lisanne Marshall )

Their bid of stuffs and techniques enabled the Romans to build round temples, the most dramatic of which is the Pantheon, rebuilt between AD 120 and 124 in the reign of the emperor Hadrian.

Cutaway drawing of the Pantheon, demoing the interior of the edifice. The hemispherical dome is 43.28 meters in diameter, and if completed would precisely touch the land. The lone visible radiation falls through an eight-metre broad spread in the top ( see note in right manus column ) . ( From Helen and Richard Leacroft, The Buildings of Ancient Rome, Brockhampton Press 1969 )

For their theaters, the Romans followed the Grecian program of grades of seats in a semi-circle confronting the phase, but whereas the Greeks tended to take advantage of natural inclines on which to raise the seats, Roman theaters were normally built on degree land. The first rock theater in Rome was opened in 55 BC.

The whole theater could be covered by thevelarium, a great canvas roof hung on masts to protect the audience from the Sun. The public entered and left the auditorium through gaps known asvomitoria, harmonizing to where their seats were. ( From Helen and Richard Leacroft, The Buildings of Ancient Rome, Brockhampton Press 1969 )

Cement And Concrete

It was n’t until 1824 AD that an English bricklayer re-discovered this great ancient innovation: if you mix clay and limestone and heat it to a high adequate temperature the substances fuse. If that is so pulverized, you get a pulverization which, when assorted with H2O, sets every bit hard as stone.


The word, in Greek, means “all gods” , and the Pantheon is unusual in that it is dedicated to multiple Gods, of whom statues of seven stood in deferrals around the round walls. The original temple was built in approximately 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus, and was dedicated particularly to Mars and to Venus, in the ears of the statue of who hung earrings made from pieces of Cleopatra’s pearls. It burned down in AD 80.

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the survey from this web site is in adobe format and file attached with the mail that describes the Stone, Tile and Timbre.

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Built in the second century A.D. , Rome ‘s Pantheon is still the largest un-reinforced concrete dome in the universe. ( Recognition: )

History contains many mentions to ancient concrete, including in the Hagiographas of the celebrated Roman bookman Pliny the Elder, who lived in the first century A.D. and died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Pliny wrote that the best maritime concrete was made from volcanic ash found in parts around the Gulf of Naples, particularly from near the contemporary town of Pozzuoli. Its virtuousnesss became so well-known that ash with similar mineral characteristics–no affair where it was found in the world–has been dubbed pozzolan.

By analysing the mineral constituents of the cement taken from the Pozzuoli Bay groin at the research lab of U.C. Berkeley, every bit good as installations in Saudi Arabia and Germany, the international squad of research workers was able to detect the “secret” to Roman cement’s lastingness. They found that the Romans made concrete by blending calcium hydroxide and volcanic stone to organize a howitzer. To construct submerged constructions, this howitzer and volcanic tufa were packed into wooden signifiers. The saltwater so triggered a chemical reaction, through which H2O molecules hydrated the calcium hydroxide and reacted with the ash to cement everything together. The ensuing calcium-aluminum-silicate-hydrate ( C-A-S-H ) bond is exceptionally strong.

By comparing, Portland cement ( the most common modern concrete blend ) lacks the lime-volcanic ash combination, and doesn’t bind good compared with Roman concrete. Portland cement, in usage for about two centuries, tends to have on peculiarly rapidly in saltwater, with a service life of less than 50 old ages. In add-on, the production of Portland cement produces a ample sum of C dioxide, one of the most damaging of the alleged nursery gases. Harmonizing to Paulo Monteiro, a professor of civil and environmental technology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the lead research worker of the squad analysing the Roman concrete, fabricating the 19 billion dozenss of Portland cement we use every twelvemonth “accounts for 7 per centum of the C dioxide that industry puts into the air.”

In add-on to being more lasting than Portland cement, argue, Roman concrete besides appears to be more sustainable to bring forth. To fabricate Portland cement, C is emitted by the combustion fuel used to heat a mix of limestone and clays to 1,450 grades Celsius ( 2,642 grades Fahrenheit ) every bit good as by the heated limestone ( calcium carbonate ) itself. To do their concrete, Romans used much less lime, and made it from limestone baked at 900 grades Celsius ( 1,652 grades Fahrenheit ) or lower, a procedure that used up much less fuel.

The researchers’ analysis of Roman concrete sheds visible radiation on bing modern concrete blends that have been used as more environmentally friendly partial replacements for Portland cement, such as volcanic ash or wing ash from coal-fired power workss. Monteiro and his co-workers besides suggest that following stuffs and production techniques used by the antediluvian Romans could bring forth longer-lasting concrete that generates less C dioxide. Monteiro estimates that pozzolan, which can be found in many parts of the universe, could potentially replace “40 per centum of the world’s demand for Portland cement.” If this is the instance, ancient Roman builders may be responsible for doing a genuinely radical impact on modern architecture–one monolithic concrete construction at a clip.

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Having studied building stuffs used by the Greek and Roman in Architectures I have now gained cognition of the specific stuffs in usage at the clip. Besides come to cognize what was most interesting to me was larning length of service of the concrete made 2000 old ages ago, particularly sing the caustic consequence of sea H2O which even Portland cement can defy merely for about 50 old ages. The concrete used was assorted utilizing the belongingss of the sea H2O to do it stronger.

However, the restriction of my research is in the fact that the information I have accessed is non specific to theatre building, it is general to public edifice of that period.



i‚· World Architecture by Paul Hamlyn

i‚· Key Movement of the History of Architecture by Millon Henri

i‚· A Development of Theatre by A. Nicoll, A history of Architecture.

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i‚· hypertext transfer protocol: // search_query=seven+wonders+of+the+ancient+greece & A ; sm=3

i‚· hypertext transfer protocol: // search_query=seven+wonders+of+the+ancient+romans & A ; sm=3


I unfeignedly thank my professor, Prof. Ashok Sagar Bhagat for his uninterrupted encouragement to believe out of the box and to make research to happen our ain replies.

I would besides wish to thank the library staff which helped me happen mention points to farther my research.

And eventually, I would wish to thank my schoolmates, specifically Aditi Roy Maelzer, Greeny Francis, Vipin.M and Vartika Tiwari, for firing the midnight oil with me.

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