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The majesty and grandeur of Roman engineering and architecture

A dear friend of mine, whose mortal remains were confined to the common mother of all, was a promising and talented architect (RIP). Through him I developed a deep fascination with and appreciation of ancient architecture and engineering.

From the Great Wall of China, built by Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, to the Pantheon built during Emperor Hadrian’s reign and the Colosseum under Emperor Vespasian in Rome, Italy; from the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, Greece, to the sphinx and pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt; and the temple of Chichen Itza built by the Mayan civilisation in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, I have been captivated by the great spectacle of ancient engineering and architecture.

However, my interest has always been drawn by the ingeniousness, beauty and lasting grandeur of Roman architecture. When the Romans conquered nations and established and expanded their empire, they brought with them innovations that had beneficial impact on the lives of those conquered.

The Roman builders were simply incredible. The vastness of the Roman Empire was characterised by supreme engineering, which even by modern advancements of technology cannot be faulted.

The aqueduct of Segovia, Spain, which is rooted on great pillars and arches of stacked granite blocks so perfectly hewn that no mortar was needed to hold them in place, is one of the most impressive examples of Roman architecture you will ever witness. Such Roman architecture, from the ruins in Britain, to Tunisia, Libya and Morocco, is a lasting monument to the influential power once held by the Romans.

It is difficult to comprehend structures of modern architectural design lasting several centuries as did the Romans’. I have found modern architecture lacking in registering visually and not flaunting the art that architecture ought to be. Modern technological and engineering developments have taken away the lavish aesthetics that were a defining feature in ancient architecture. Modern buildings are an uninspiring blend of steel and glass, unappealing to architectural connoisseurs who see building not only as bricks and mortar, but also a visual feast of art.

Architecture has been changing to the demands for enhanced convenience as dictated by modern lifestyles, and nauseating obsession with efficient employment of resources. Modern architecture should attempt to complement the timeless opulence and elegance of Roman architecture. I doubt that in centuries to come, modern architecture would have any measure of prominence and lustre.

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  • Sentletse Diakanyo's blogs may contain views on any subject which may upset sensitive readers. Parental guidance is strongly advised.