Visual Glossary | Roman Architecture | Second edition

Visual Glossary | Roman Architecture | Second edition

Glossary | Roman Architecture | Second edition

Visual Glossary | Roman Architecture | Second edition

Adyton:     Inner sanctuary of a temple

Aedicule:               An opening framed by columns or pilasters supporting an entablature and pediment, often used ornamentally

Agger:     Rampart

Agora: A marketplace of a Greek town

Alae:     Wings or alcoves opening to the left or right of the atrium of a Roman house

Annular vault:     A vaulted passage running around a circular space

Antefix:   Ornament at the eaves of a roof to conceal the end of a tile

Apodyterion:    Changing room of a Roman bath

Apogee:    Concave moulding between the shaft and the base of a column

Architrave: Horizontal element spanning two columns and forming the lowest part of the entablature. In the Doric Order, it is normally plain; in the Ionic and Corinthian it is divided into three horizontal fasciae

Arcuated lintel:   A  single  arched  entablature  flanked  by  horizontal  entablatures,  often  in  the centre of a facade under the pediment

Ashlar masonry:     Regular cut-stone masonry

Astragal: A small convex semicircular moulding often ornamented with a bead-and-reel ornament

Atrium: The main hall of a traditional Roman house. It could be completely roofed (testudinate) or have an opening (compluvium) in the middle of its roof and a water tank (impluvium)  on  the  floor  beneath.

Bead-and-reel: A moulding consisting of circular or lozenge-shaped elements alternating with cylindrical ones

Belvedere: A roofed open-sided building which commands a view

Bipedal:    Square Roman bricks measuring two Roman feet on each side

Bucrania:    A decorative motif consisting of ox-heads shown frontally

Cabled fluting:  Fluting  filled  with   a vertical  convex  moulding,  usually  confined  to  the  lowest third of the shaft

Caldarium:    The hot room of a Roman bath

Careers:     The starting gates for the chariots of a Roman circus

Catenary:   The  shape  formed  by   a chain  hanging  freely  from  two  fixed  points

Cauliculus:           The stalk from which spring the volutes and helices of a Corinthian capital Cavetto:         A concave moulding

Cella: The central chamber of a temple where the image of the deity was placed

Clerestory: Upper part of a wall above the level of adjacent aisles, pierced with windows to light a central room or nave

284       Glossary  

Coffer:       A sunken panel in a ceiling or vault

Compluvium:        See Atrium

Composite capital:             A capital which consists of two rows of acanthus leaves at the bottom and a diagonal Ionic volute above

Consoles: Brackets supporting the projecting part of a Corinthian cornice. The term is often used for the two-stepped brackets common in the East, and Rome from the time of Hadrian onwards, to distinguish them from modillions

Corbel:       A supporting bracket projecting from a wall or sometimes a column shaft

Corinthian Order: The richest of the three Greek Orders, recognizable by its acanthus capitals

The Eastern Provinces Part 2 | Roman Architecture | Second edition

Cornice:       The top, projecting part of the entablature

Corona:       The vertical face of the projecting part of a cornice, below the sima

Cryptoporticus: A ground-level or semisubterranean vaulted corridor, usually lit by openings in the vault. Its primary function is normally to buttress an adjacent structure, and

secondarily it is used as a shady place to walk or store goods

Curia: Meeting-place for the Senate or local Council of a Roman town

Cyma recta:       A double moulding, concave above, convex below

Cyma reversa:       A double moulding, convex above, concave below

Decastyle:       Consisting of ten columns

Dentils: A series of rectangular blocks under the cornice of an Ionic or Corinthian entablature. In the Corinthian Order, they are below the modillions

Data:       A summer-house

Dipteral:       A term applied to a temple with a double row of columns around the cella

Domus:       A large, single-family house, as distinct from an apartment house

Doric Order: The most austere of the three Greek Orders, distinguished by its plain capital and triglyph frieze

Drafting: A plain recessed band around the edges of a block or at the bottom of the riser of a step

Echinus: A swelling, cushion-shaped element under the abacus of a Doric or Ionic capital. In the case of the Ionic capital, it is ornamented with egg-and-tongue

Egg-and-dart: An ornament similar to egg-and-tongue, preferred to the latter in Flavian and Severan times

Egg-and-tongue: An ornament consisting of oval elements alternating with downward pointing tongues, normally applied to an ovolo moulding

Entablature:       A collective term applied to the architrave, frieze and cornice

Exedra:        A recess, usually semicircular or rectangular

Extrados:      The outer curved face of an arch

Fascia:       A plain horizontal band

Fauces:      A passageway in a Roman house, leading from the front door to the atrium

Fluting: Concave grooves of curved sections running vertically up the shaft of a column. In the Doric Order, they are broad and shallow and meet in a sharp edge, termed an arris.

In  the  Ionic  and  Corinthian  Orders,  are  deeper  and  divided  into  flat  fillets  or  strips

Fornix:   A  Republican  term  for  an  arch.    It is sometimes  used  as  an  arch  flanked  by  half-columns which carry an entablature over the top of the arch

Forum:      The marketplace or main square of a Roman town

Frieze: The middle section of the entablature. In the Doric Order, it is divided into triglyphs and metopes; in the Ionic and Corinthian it is continuous and often has either relief sculpture or an inscription

Frigidarium: The cold room of a Roman bath


Guilloche: A pattern of interlacing bands which form a plait, commonly found on the upper torus of a column base

Guttae: Originally the wooden pegs were used to secure the beam ends of timber structures and later translated into stone in the Doric Order. There are 6 under each triglyph and 18 on the underside of each mutule.

Visual Glossary | Roman Architecture | Second edition

Heliocaminus: A room, usually in a bath, oriented to take maximum advantage of the sun’s heat

Helix: A spiral ornament. The term is often used to denote the two inner tendrils which spring from the cauliculus of Corinthian capital and meet under the abacus

Medium:     The small garden behind a Republican house

Hexastyle:     Consisting of six columns

Hypocaust:   A  floor  raised  on  small  columns  to  allow  the  circulation  of  air  underneath

Impluvium:     See Atrium

Insula:    A tenement or apartment house

Interaxial:    The distance between the centres of two adjacent columns

Intercolumniation:    The distance between the sides of two adjacent columns

Intrados:   The  inner  face  or  underside  of  an  arch.  Also  called  soffit

Ionic Order: One of the three Greek Orders, recognizable by its volute capitals

Economic:     A term applied to masonry with courses of uniform height

Laconicum:    The hot, dry room of a Roman bath

Lararium:    A shrine to the household gods of a Roman house

Later:     Roman bricks, either baked (cactus) or unbaked (crude)

Lunette:   A  semicircular  flat  surface  or  opening

Macellum: A meat or provisions market

Megaron:    A rectangular hall in Cretan and Mycenaean architecture

Merlon:     The raised portion of battlements

Meta: The turning point for chariots in a Roman circus. There was one at each end of the spine,  the  first  turn  (meta  prima)  being   at the  curved  end  of  the  arena,  the  second  (meta  Secunda) at the career end

Metope:   The  space  between  two  triglyphs,  either  left  plain  or  filled  with  relief  sculpture

Modillion: A double-scrolled bracket supporting the projecting part of a cornice

Mutule:   Rectangular  panels  under  the  soffit  of   a Doric  cornice,  adorned  with  18  pegs  or  guttae. They represent the projecting rafters in the original timber construction

Narthex:    An antechamber to the nave of a Christian church

Nation:     The swimming pool of a Roman bath

Nymphaeum:    A grotto with a natural water supply dedicated to the nymphs—later an arti-

facial  grotto  or  fountain  building

Octastyle:     Consisting of eight columns

Oculus:     Circular opening in the apex of a dome

Odeum:     A small roofed theatre for musical entertainment

Oecus: The main living room of a Greek house, introduced to Roman architecture along with the peristyle. Often used for dining

Orchestra: The circular dancing area of a Greek theatre, which developed into the semicircular area in front of the stage of a Roman theatre

Orthostat:      A slab of stone laid vertically

Ovolo:     A convex moulding

Palaestra: An open area surrounded by covered porticoes used for wrestling and exercise, often forming part of a Roman bath complex

286       Glossary

Palmette: A fan-shaped ornament consisting of lobed or pointed leaves, often found in Roman architecture on the sima of a cornice

Peripteral: A term applied to a cella surrounded by a single row of columns

Peristyle: An open courtyard or garden surrounded by columnar porticoes

Pilaster: A rectangular column projecting only slightly from a wall, used to suggest struc-

Tue.   It can  be  plain  or  fluted  and  have  the  base  and  capital  of  any  Order

Plinth:       The projecting base of a wall, or a column pedestal

Visual Glossary | Roman Architecture | Second edition

Podium:       The raised platform on which the columns and cella of a Roman temple stand

Pomerium: The area left free of buildings immediately inside and outside the walls of a Roman town

Pozzolana: A reddish volcanic ash found in central Italy, especially around Pozzuoli, which gave Roman concrete its strength

Praetorium:   The  official  residence  of   a legionary  commander  or  provincial  governor  in   a Roman fort

Principia: The headquarters building of a Roman fort where the legionary standards were kept, speeches made and councils held

Pronaos:       Porch in front of the cella of a temple

Propylaeum: Monumental entrance gateway to a sanctuary

Propylon:       A simpler version of a propylaeum

Prostyle:         A term used for a temple with free-standing columns at the entrance side only

Pseudodipteral:        A dipteral arrangement of columns with the inner row omitted

Pseudoperipteral: A term applied to a temple with some of the columns engaged into the cella wall

Pulvinated:   Convex  in  profile.   A term  usually  applied  to   a frieze

Quadriga:       A four-horsed chariot

Quoins:        Dressed stones at the corner of a building

Rotunda:        A building circular in plan, often domed

Schola labri: The place where the cold water basin stood in the hot room of a Roman bath

Sciagraphy:       The art of projecting shadows onto a drawing of a building

Scotia: A concave moulding, usually between the two torus mouldings of a column base

Sima:        The crowning moulding of a cornice, originally the gutter

Socle:       The lower part of a wall

Soffit:      The underside of an architectural member

Spandrel:              The triangular space described by the side of an arch, the horizontal line drawn from its apex and the vertical line from its springing

Spina:       The dividing strip running down the arena of a Roman circus

Stylobate: The three-stepped platform on which the columns and cella of a Greek temple stand

Sudatorium:       The sweating room of a Roman bath

Taberna:       A small shop or workshop

Tablinum: The central room at the end of the atrium of a Roman house, originally the master bedroom, later used for storing records Temenos: Sacred area around a shrine or temple

Tepidarium:      The warm room of a Roman bath

Tetrakionia: Monument consisting of four columns or groups of columns placed at the intersection of two major streets

Tetrapylon: A monument consisting of four pylons, often erected at the intersection of two main streets. It can also refer to a four-sided arch


Tetrastyle:     Consisting of four columns

Torus:     A convex moulding, usually on a column base

Tribunal:    The raised platform from which a general or emperor addressed the troops

Triclinium: The dining room of a Roman house, so called because of the three banqueting couches (klinai) arranged around the walls

Triglyphs: Upright rectangular panels with vertical grooves alternating with the metopes of a Doric frieze. They represent the ends of the ceiling beams in the original timber construction

Peripheral: Columns three deep

Volutes:     The spiral scrolls at the corner of an Ionic or Corinthian capital

Voussoirs:            The wedge-shaped stones which compose a masonry arch



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