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Comparison of the Egyptian Pyramids and Roman Colosseum

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Architecture
Wordcount: 1275 words Published: 2nd May 2018

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  • Chris Flathmann

Whether it be shape, material, purpose, or significance, every piece of architecture is uniquely similar and uniquely different to every other piece. Despite being separated by both time and culture, the Roman Colosseum and the Egyptian Pyramids of Giza possess both unique similarities and differences to each other. Like most cultures, Roman architecture tends to derive some elements from previous cultures such as the Egyptian culture. The main similarities between the Colosseum and the Pyramids can be seen in the material used in construction due to similar natural recourses; however, the historical context and purpose of both religion and entertainment differentiate the two cultures architecture

Both the Colosseum and Pyramids are great milestones not only in the world of architecture but also engineering. Like most cultures, both Roman and Egyptian architecture tends to use natural resources as materials in construction. The materials used by each culture can be explained by looking at the topography in which they reside. Since Egyptian culture primarily resided in desert regions near running water sources, materials such as limestone were heavily abundant and frequently used in construction. Due to the availability of water for some Egyptian cultures, clay would also be used. Both materials become popular not only because of their abundance but also their support strength and insulating properties. Romans also preferred using more local materials such as mortar, lime, clay, tuff, and travertine; however, Romans set themselves apart by developing cement for the purposes of construction.[1] The benefit of using cement for construction is the ease of formation. Even though both cultures had both similar resources, their construction process was highly different.

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In terms of visual characteristics, the Pyramids of Giza and the Roman Colosseum could not be further apart. The Pyramids of Giza are four sided with triangular faces. The Colosseum utilizes a circular shape to allow 360o spectating. Although the Colosseum uses the newly develop arch for support, many classical elements are still incorporated into it. One of the most noticeable aesthetic aspects of the Colosseum is the use of multiple different types of columns including Ionic and Corinthian. The Colosseum is also designed in layers with each layer consisting of a different type of column in order to show variety in architectural elements. On the other hand, the Pyramids of Giza are closed up and use flat faces rather than rounded construction. Although the exterior of the Pyramids of Giza appear plain, the true style of Egyptian culture can be seen on the inside. Burial chambers located inside the Pyramids were decorated with not only elaborate paintings but also prized possessions of the dead. This tendency to decorate interiors shows the importance that the afterlife played in Egyptian culture.

Both the Colosseum and the Pyramids have become symbols of ancient civilization for both Rome and Egypt. The Roman Colosseum exemplifies the well-being and desires of the Roman people. Under emperor Vespasian, construction of the Colosseum began in order to reestablish the prominence of Roman rule after the death of Nero. This construction was started in order to celebrate the reestablishment of the empire and multiple militaristic victories. The Colosseum was primarily used for entertainment when it was first finished under emperor Titus.[2]A large society needs entertainment in order to keep happy citizens. The Roman people were very big into entertainment and extravagant shows; these vices were catered to by functions held in the Colosseum such as gladiator fights and fights against animals in order to show the strength of Rome’s citizens. This is the Primary difference between the Colosseum and the Pyramids. The Pyramids were primarily built in dedication to pharaohs who were considered gods and would need a resting place for the afterlife. Although Rome used architecture to show the power of its society, Egypt used it to show the power of its leaders. The Pyramids were also single use buildings that were used for burial places for fallen pharaohs such as Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaura. The Pyramids of Giza not only acted as burial places for pharaohs but also their families. These tombs would even be decorated and furnished for the dead to enjoy in the afterlife.[3] Since the pyramids were burial places, most were sealed off to the public. One the other hand, the Colosseum saw heavy use after its construction due to events so it was given a very open design to accommodate for large amounts of people. These differences show how cultural differences can result in major changes for both the purpose and the design of a building.

The Egyptian Pyramids and Roman Colosseum show how a pieces of architectures building materials and construction process and heavily differ based on the purpose and historical context under which they were constructed. While Roman Culture primarily used architecture utilized large public space, the Egyptians tendency to dedicate buildings leaders led to large private constructions that were primarily used for display and spiritual purposes. Both the geographical and topographical separation between Egypt and Rome allowed Rome to create a unique style that still drew small elements from ancient cultures such as Egypt.

Vespasian; Titus; Domitian, Roman Colosseum, 70 AD, Architecture (cement, Lime, Tile, etc…)

Unknown, Pyramids of Giza, c. 2325 BC, Architecture (Limestone, clay)

[1] The-Colosseum.net. Materials. [cited 2/14 2017]. Available from http://www.the-Colosseum.net/architecture/materials_en.htm√.

[2] The-Colosseum.net. Materials. [cited 2/14 2017]. Available from http://www.the-Colosseum.net/architecture/materials_en.htm√.

[3] The Editors of Encyclopedia Britanica. Pyramids of giza. in Britanica [database online]. 2016 [cited 2/15 2017]. Available from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pyramids-of-Giza.


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