ARTH409: Roman Architecture

Course Syllabus for "ARTH409: Roman Architecture"

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In this course, we will study the architecture of Ancient Rome, beginning with its origins in the eighth century BC, and continuing through the fourth century AD with the move of the Roman capital to Constantinople.  The course of lectures and readings outlined below will familiarize you with the major building methods and styles used in Roman architecture.  In addition, interior decoration (including the very important topic of Roman wall painting) will be addressed.  By the end of the course, you will be able to identify some of the most important works of Roman architecture and discuss the historical and cultural conditions that informed their production. An important theme throughout the first half of the course is the relationship between Ancient Rome and Greek and Etruscan cultures, which were highly influential in the formation of a distinctive Roman architecture.  Understanding the role that Roman architecture played in the eastern and western Roman provinces is also significant to this course, as it draws Roman architecture into a broader geographical and cultural context.  Roman art and culture were tremendously important for Western culture after the fall of the Roman Empire; by completing this course, you will be well-prepared for study of later Western architecture. Note: Throughout this course, you may find it useful to refer to the glossary of Ancient Rome art posted on the companion website that Wadsworth Publishing has developed for its textbook, Gardner’s Art through the Ages, 12th Edition.   You may wish to bookmark this page in your browser for ease of use.  Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on this webpage.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the general arc of the history of ancient Rome.
  • Identify the major historical events in ancient Roman history and the emperors who presided during these events.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the vital role that imagery, especially architecture, played in Rome’s political and cultural world.
  • Identify the origins of various styles that the Romans borrowed and explain how they were re-purposed.
  • Identify the major stylistic developments from Rome’s origins to its demise.
  • Identify the styles that were popular under the rule of different emperors, and explain how those styles relate to a political ideology.
  • Discuss the different building techniques used by the Romans and explain how the development of new techniques changed the appearance of Roman architecture.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the different provinces of the Roman Empire and the ways in which regional differences are apparent in architecture.
  • Identify specific monuments and be able to provide basic identifying information: title, date, location, architects (if known), patron.
  • Explain the importance of Roman architecture in shaping the architecture of later Western civilizations.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer

√    Have continuous broadband internet access

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader of Flash)

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.)

√    Be competent in the English language

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed ARTH101: Art Appreciation and Techniques, ARTH110: Introduction to Western Art History—Pre-historic to High Gothic, ARTH111: Introduction to Western Art History—Proto-Renaissance to Contemporary Art, and four 200-level ARTH courses.

Course Information

Welcome to ARTH409, Roman Architecture.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 

Primary Resources: Diana E. E. Kleiner, Roman Architecture (Yale University: Open Yale Courses), http://oyc.yale.edu (Accessed March 10, 2011) License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0. The original version can be found here.

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course successfully you must satisfactorily complete one short labeling quiz, one formal analysis writing assignment, and pass the final exam with a score of 70% or higher.

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through both the quiz and analysis assignment.

Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course will take a total of approximately 43 hours to complete.

Tips/Suggestions: As with any art history course, it is important that you take time to carefully examine any and all images presented in this course.  Pay careful attention to images presented in video lectures, and pause the videos or go back as necessary to review.  Most images also can be easily located in a Google search.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.