Lecture explores technological innovation in ancient Rome

What can ancient concrete tell us about technological innovation in imperial Rome? Quite a bit, says Lynne Lancaster, associate professor in classics and world religions at Ohio University.

She will share her knowledge in a free lecture on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Paulus Great Hall, Collins Legal Center, at Willamette University.

Lancaster will first discuss the differences between Roman and modern concrete before tracing the role that the introduction of concrete had on the development of imperial architecture in Rome, starting with the Colosseum in 80 AD and ending with the Baths of Diocletian in 305 AD.

She will address particular building methods relating to concrete vaulting that were developed to allow the builders to construct larger and more complex structures. She will also relate these techniques to the social and economic context in which they occurred.

The effect of the brick industry on social mobility, the impact of the eruption of Vesuvius on the availability of building materials, the marble trade's effect on society's aesthetic expectations and the influence of economic problems of the 3rd century on construction in Rome are among the topics Lancaster will address.

This lecture is a synopsis of some of the major themes in Lancaster's recently published book, "Concrete Vaulted Construction in Imperial Rome: Innovations in Context."

This event is co-sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America Martha Sharp Joukowsky Lecture and the Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology at Willamette University.

Thanks to an AIA Outreach Grant, American Sign Language interpretation is available by request by calling 503-370-6654.