Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Roman Architecture - Examples Of Etruscan Architecture

( Originally Published 1921 )

The character of Etruscan architecture has been referred to (p. 133). The remains, which consist chiefly of tombs, city walls, gateways, bridges, and aqueducts, were similar in character to early Pelasgic work (p. 72).

The Cloaca Maxima, Rome (c. B.C. 578) (p. 136 A), constructed to drain the valleys between the hills of Rome, has a semicircular vault of peperino stone, 11 ft. in span, of three concentric rings of voussoirs, each 2 ft. 6 ins. high, forming probably the oldest example in Europe of true arch construction, with radiating joints.

The Arch of Augustus, Perugia (p. 136 B), is so called because the part above the frieze was added by Augustus. The Arch forms part of the old Etruscan walls, about two miles long, surrounding the ancient city, and is the best existing example of Etruscan masonry. It is built of large blocks of travertine stone without mortar, surmounted by a frieze resembling the Doric with triglyphs represented by dwarf Ionic pilasters.

The Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, Rome (B.C. 509) (p. 139 A), the most important example of this type of building, had its cella divided into three chambers for statues of Jupiter, Minerva, and Juno, and was nearly square on plan, with widely spaced columns to support timber architraves. It was burnt in B.C. 83, and rebuilt by Sulla, who here made use of some of the marble Corinthian columns taken from the Olympieion, Athens (p. 111).

The Temple of Juno Sospita, Lanuvium (p. 136 H, J) is conjecturally restored from the description by Vitruvius (Bk. IV, chap. vii). The plan has three cells for three deities, and a front portico with two rows of four columns, widely spaced and approached by walled-in steps—a type of temple plan afterwards adopted by the Romans, and in contrast to the Greek type. The restored elevation (p. 136 J) shows the steps between flanking walls and the portico columns supporting pendant slabs and pediment. The roof carpentry of an Etruscan temple is included in this reconstruction (p. 136 K), and the terra-cotta roof covering of this Temple has been set up in the British Museum (p. 136 H), while an interesting modern version of the portico is seen in S. Paul, Covent Garden, London.

The Temple, Alatri (p. 136), remains of which were found in A.D. 1882, has been re-erected in the court of the Villa of Pope Julius, Rome. This small Etruscan temple rests on a podium, and a sloping ramp gives access to a portico of two columns from which the central doorway opens into the cella. The typical entablature of enriched terra-cotta, pediment with acroteria, and eaves with antefixae, resemble those from Lanuvium.

The Etruscan Tomb, Corneto (p. 136 F, G), between Pisa and Rome, is one of twenty-three rock-cut tombs at that place, most of which retain their ancient painting, although they have been rifled for the trinkets they contained. The entrance leads into a mortuary chapel, somewhat resembling the atrium of an Etruscan house as described by Vitruvius, with walls covered with paintings, and with a roof formed in imitation of rafters sloping up to the central opening which admits light through a vertical shaft. A doorway from the mortuary chapel leads to a chamber behind at a lower level. A good idea of one of these Etruscan tombs can be obtained from the reconstruction of the Tomb at Bomazzo in the British Museum.

The Necropolis, Cerveteri, contains a number of Etruscan tombs of which that known as the Grotta Regulini-Galassi is one of the most interesting.

The Etruscan Tomb, Vulci, found A.D. 1833, of which there is a reconstruction in the British Museum, shows that many of these tombs were adorned with architectural features of importance. Two crouching lions (guardian spirits) originally flanked the entrance of the tomb. The walls have paintings with portrait figures in rich colours, and the short, sturdy column has a large capital of undeveloped Corinthian type (p. 136 D).

The Etruscan Sarcophagus in the British Museum (p. 136 E) is typical of numbers found in Etruria which are now in various museums. It has reliefs of marine monsters on the side, and a reclining figure holding the plate for the coin to be paid to Charon for ferrying the departed across the Styx.

The Sarcophagus, Cerveteri, now in the British Museum (p. 136 C), is supported on winged figures, and has two reclining figures on the lid. The sides of the sarcophagus are sculptured in low relief, that on the front showing a contest between two warriors.


Examples of Roman architecture are found not in Italy only, but wherever Roman government extended, as at Nimes and Arles in France ; Tarragona and Segovia in Spain ; Treves and Aix-la-Chapelle in Germany ; Constantine and Timgad in North Africa ; Baalbek and Palmyra in Syria, besides Silchester and Bath in England (p. 319).

Home | More Articles | Email: