Ancient Rome Building and Engineering
There is no doubt that ancient Roman ability in building and engineering was superlative. This ability was initially inherited from their Etruscan neighbours to the north and soon became a fundamental strategic strength. Rome and the Romans were able to conquer and govern the world as well as easily spread her civilising influence in a stable fashion also because of their ability to reliably execute civil engineering works and manage large infrastructure projects. This included the ability to construct durable roads, bridges and ports for transportation of goods and civilians.
Ancient Rome’s civil engineering skills enabled a high degree of urbanisation. This include infrastructure such as large scale sewers (which are still functional!), public baths, housing and apartment blocks and large public meeting halls called Basilicas. Circuses and amphitheaters could also seat 10’s of thousands of people.
Slow deliberate developments in building techniques
Rather than a result of methodical R&D the achievements of Roman construction and engineering were achieved as a result of slow and progressive trial and error through the ages. They became extremely capable in the utilisation of a wide range of Roman construction materials in their optimal combinations, aided by advanced construction machinery. Innovations were also made, most notoriously with Pozzolanic Cement – which had different properties from common mortar, also including those of being extremely effective in contact with water, and situations such as sewers, water reservoirs and dams. This effectively amounted to a revolution in construction techniques available.
Events such as the great fire of Rome also pushed advances in construction techniques and planning. Slowly but surely they managed to achieve walls, vaults, arches and domes of impressive dimensions, strength and beauty such as we may see in the Colosseum, Aqueducts and the Pantheon.
Roman construction techniques were so advanced as to act as inspiration during the Renaissance of Rome. Renaissance architects like Brunelleschi who were to build competing structures came to Rome in order to study and learn the techniques of the ancients.