ABPL10004: Roman Triumphal Arches


Question 12 – Roman Triumphal Arches

Thesis Statement

One of the enduring historical artefacts from the Roman Empire is the triumphal arches. The arches are found in all areas where the Roman Empire set their foot. Structurally, they are monumental structures that are shaped like an archway having one or more arched passageways. They are decorated with carvings, sculpted reliefs and messages with dedications. Original, the arches were supposed to elevate a person above the ordinary to create an image of a honoured person inform of a statue in the arch. However, the design evolved over the years becoming more elaborate and having regularized set of features which were intended to convey a given message to the spectators. In design, the façade was mainly decorated with marble columns while piers and attics had decorative cornices. The design also included sculpted panels showing victories and achievements of the triumphator, even sometimes including the captured weapons used by the enemy during the war.  Although they were originally meant to celebrate triumph on different battles, triumphal arches were an imagery monument that conveyed different message and had varied representations.



ABPL10004: Roman Triumphal Arches

ABPL10004 & ABPL20030 2019-S1: Assessment Task 2

Essay Topics
You must choose ONE essay topic grouped under headings that reflect the lecture modules.
Space, Settlement and the City
1. Compare and contrast the differing approaches to the creation of shelter in pre-colonial far
north Australia and one islander group of the Pacific (e.g. New Zealand, Samoa OR Fiji etc.),
making specific reference to: relationship with the land and/or sea, social patterns, climate
and construction practice.
2. Explain how the Chinese during the Ming dynasty commemorated death in the monumental
expression of their tombs, considering the significance of their landscape context outside
Beijing. Reflect on their spatial relationships with the Forbidden City and the Altar of
Heaven, commenting on any major similarities or differences in terms of planning
hierarchies, circulation and ritual practice or symbolism.
3. In Ancient Egypt, ritual gave form and meaning to processions, festivals and celebrations.
Outline their influence on the temple complexes of Thebes taking into account the following
aspects: layout, interior volume, spatial progression and relationship with landscape.
4. Augustus made significant urban and architectural interventions on the city of Rome.
Choose three buildings/monuments related to his reign and discuss how they reflect his
impact. What representational messages were they designed to convey and how were these
incorporated into the spaces and architecture of each monument/building?
5. Platforms, ziggurats and pyramids played an important social and religious role in the
ancient cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt and pre-Columbian America. Choose ONE of these
cultures and discuss how these roles were expressed in their architectural treatment,
function, circulation and spatial context (i.e. within a city and/or a natural landscape).
Spaces of Religion
6. Explain the relationship between space and ritual in Cistercian Abbeys. Use at least two
examples and discuss the formal and planning arrangements as well as the relationship
between the abbey complex and the surrounding landscape.

7. The churches of 5th and 6th century Ravenna show some strong similarities and some strong
differences to the churches of the late Roman Empire. Compare and contrast two examples
from Ravenna (e.g. Santa Croce, Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, San Vitale or Sant’Apollinare in
Classe) with two from 4th or 5th century Rome (e.g. Santa Sabina, Santa Costanza, San Paolo
fuori le Mura, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Clemente). Discuss the use of the classical language
of architecture, materials, decoration and construction, ignoring later additions and
8. During the 8th –10th centuries, Spain came under significant Islamic influence. Discuss how
the grand Mosque at Cordoba illustrates these influences in terms of planning, circulation,
structure and ornamental systems. How was the original design of the mosque treated when
the Catholic Cathedral was built on the site?
9. The religious phenomenon of pilgrimage had a substantial impact upon European church
design. Discuss in relation to the Romanesque architecture of 11th and 12th century France
making specific reference to planning and decoration. Examine the character and role of
sculpture and ornament, considering ways in which these relate to the architecture. Base
your analysis on two examples such as the Abbey of Saint-Philibert (Tournus), Sacré Coeur
(Paray-le-Monial), the Basilica of Ste-Madeleine (Vézelay), Autun Cathedral and Saint-Foy
Abbey Church (Conques).
10. Over time, the architecture of the stupa developed distinct regional variations. Examine
stupas from at least three different geographical areas (choosing from countries such as Sri
Lanka, India, Indonesia and Thailand) and compare and contrast the following aspects: built
form, construction and decoration, local ritual and relationship with the landscape.
***Please note that you cannot use either the Great Stupa at Sanchi or Borobodur as examples
in your answer to this question.
11. The centralised church plan is a fundamental form used in early Christian architecture in
both Eastern and Western Europe. Outline and explain the origins of this type of plan.
Develop your argument with further examples such as Saints Sergius & Bacchus in
Constantinople (Istanbul) and Santo Stefano Rotondo in Rome.

Power, Privacy and Community in Civic and Religious Space
12. Explain the role of Roman triumphal arches. Make sure you use at least one example from
the city of Rome and one example from another site colonised by the Roman Empire.
Describe their composition, ornamental and decorative system, and the use of text to convey

specific messages. Choose one 18th or 19th century example to include as a reflective
13. How was the sacred represented in the design of the Gothic cathedral? Examine in relation to
the planning, elevation and decoration of at least two cathedrals from the 11th to 13th
centuries in northern Europe. Choose at least one example from England and at least one
example from France. What role did changes in building technology play in enabling this
architectural representation of the Christian faith?
14. The development of the ancient Khmer region under the rule of Suryavarman II is evidenced
in the temple complex of Angkor Wat (Vrah Vishnulok). Describe the complex and its
function, making specific reference to the representational qualities of the architecture.
Discuss also the sequence of circulation and any hierarchies involved in making a visit to the

Dwelling: from Privacy and Domesticity to Expressions of Power and Government
15. What is vernacular architecture? Using Paul Oliver’s Encyclopaedia of Vernacular Architecture
as a starting point, choose two different communities in two different geographical locations
and compare and contrast how their local housing forms developed. Consider the influence
of: topography and climate, materials, orientation and spatial relationships (both interior
planning and the relationship of the building to its context) in terms of social and cultural
mores and structures.
***Please note that you cannot incorporate building examples from tutorial 3 in your
answer to this question, i.e. the Wealden House and the Batammaliba Roundhouse).
16. How does the 14th century Alhambra place complex near Granada, Spain, relate to Muslim
palace typologies? Analyse key examples to support your argument, considering the
building, its interior and garden and comparing and contrasting siting, spatial arrangements
and decoration.
17. The town hall (or palazzo pubblico) became an identifying element of civic life in Italian towns
of the late Medieval and early Renaissance periods, such as Siena, San Gimignano and
Venice. Describe their function, architectural form and interiors, considering their
relationship to the social and urban context. What particular social, economic, political or
religious values did they seek to represent, if any?
18. Compare and contrast both the role of water and the role of geometry in the planning and
design of the sixteenth century Italian Renaissance garden and the Mughal garden (in India
and Kashmir). Use the Villa Lante, Bagnaia, as your principal Italian example and compare it

to at least one of the following Mughal examples: Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi; Shalimar Bagh,
Srinagar and Shalimar Bagh, Lahore. ABPL10004: Roman Triumphal Arches.
New Spatial Concepts and Sites of Continuity
20. Taking three pre-17th century examples of synagogues from different parts of the world,
explain how the Jewish identity of the community (in both universal and localised
contexts) was reflected in the construction of its main temple. Using the Temple of Solomon
as a starting point, discuss the relationship between the Jewish conception of ritual space
and architectural style and tradition.
21. Filippo Brunelleschi was an architect who derived much from the Romanesque traditions
of Florence, rather than solely the architecture of Ancient Rome. What were these local
traditions? Discuss in reference to at least three of his works, considering construction
techniques, materials, decoration, planning and the use of the classical language of
architecture in your response. ABPL10004: Roman Triumphal Arches.
22. Compare and contrast the work of the Italian Baroque architects Francesco Borromini and
Guarino Guarini. Did Guarini extend Borromini’s design strategies, or are there substantial
differences to be found in comparing their architecture? Consider built form, construction
techniques, materials, planning, decoration and the use of design sources in your response.
23. Japanese Shinto shrine architecture was profoundly affected by the introduction of
Buddhism into Japan during the 6th – 7th century Asuka period. Trace the effect of
Buddhism on Shinto shrine architecture in reference to examples from the 8th to the 16th
century. ABPL10004: Roman Triumphal Arches.
24. Discuss the role, design, construction and decoration of the pagoda in a Japanese temple
complex. How, in all of these aspects, does it differ from the design, construction and
symbolism of the pagoda in China and Korea?