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Amphitheatre

(1,954 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Terminological and typological definition Amphitheatrum is a latinized Greek word (ἀμφιθέατρον; amphithéatron) and literally means ‘double  theatre’ or ‘theatre with two halves’; it is first mentioned in Augustan times (Vitr. De arch. 1,7,1; Str. 14,1,43; R. Gest. div. Aug. 22). In Republican times, the term spectacula, which refers to the function rather than the type of building, was used for the earliest preserved amphitheatre (Pompeii; CIL X 852) as well as for the rows of wooden benches on the Forum Romanum (Fest. 120…

Basilica

(1,856 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Terminology and definition The term basilica goes back to the Greek word βασιλική ( basilikḗ), which means ‘majestic, royal, princely, magnificent, grand’ (Lat. regalis). When referring to a building, the adjective must be supplemented by a noun such as στοά ( stoá), since basilica in Greek texts was often translated as στοά. In Christian times, the meaning of basilica is identical to church. Architecturally, a basilica consists of a long hall, which could be open or closed to the outside and which was divided into a nave and side aisles. …

Exedra

(523 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Terminology and definition Exedra is a latinized Greek word (ἐξέδρα = outdoor seat), which started to be used by the Romans in the Republican era. On the basis of written sources, the exedra can be defined as a space open to the elements and generally having (two) columns in antis. An exedra could have benches and was sometimes decorated with statues of deities or commendable citizens. They had either a rectangular or semicircular ground plan, with the rectangular form being more common; in many cases there was a portico in front. Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) [German version] B…

Baths

(969 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Terminology and definition In Greek baths were called βαλανεῖον ( balaneîon) or λουτρόν ( loutrón), in Latin lavatrina, balneum, balnea, balnae. In the Graeco-Roman period there were private baths in dwelling houses as well as public baths, whilst in the ancient Orient only private baths were known. The public baths were mostly privately owned and rather modest in size; for the monumental public baths, see  Thermae [1]. Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) [German version] B. Greece There were private baths in Greece from the Minoan-Mycenaean period onwards; the…

Porticus

(446 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
[German version] I. Definition Porticus is Lat. for the Greek stoá , a covered colonnade with rear and often also side walls. The columns could be in antis, prostyle or between side walls. The porticus with one or multiple naves was normally linear and one-storeyed, but could also be round ( porticus absidata) and two-storeyed. In contrast to the Greek stoá the Roman porticus was seldom free-standing. Porticūs lay mostly along a road or an open space in front of a building or on one or more sides of a courtyard. As a peristylion , porticus also denoted an independent building. An exceptio…

Colosseum

(903 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Terminology and History Originally, the C. was called amphitheatrum Flavium (Flavian amphitheatre) after the imperial dynasty which had built it. The name Colisaeus appears for the first time in an epigram of the 8th cent. AD (Beda Venerabilis, PL 94,453); it derived from the neighbouring colossal statue of Nero ( Colossus Neronis). Vespasian (Suet. Vesp. 11,1) had initiated the building of the C. in the valley between Esquiline, Palatine and Caelius, on the site previously occupied by the lake ( stagnum) belonging to the famous   Domus Aurea

Baptisterium

(605 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Terminology The Latinized Greek term baptisterium (βαπτιστήριον; baptistḗrion, from βαπτίζω; baptízō, ‘dip’) was first used by Pliny (Ep. 2,17,11) for a bathing pool; in Greek literature, however, this meaning of the word is unknown. Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) [German version] B. Bathing pool In sources related to Roman baths ( Thermae [1]) the term baptisterium appears very rarely;   piscina is more widely used. Such cold water pools were usually rectangular or apsidal and placed in a recess (Plin. Ep. 5,6,25; 2,…

Macellum

(652 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Terminology, definition and typology The term macellum is first attested in Plautus; we can assume that it is probably the Latinized version of the Greek word μάκελλος/ mákellos (‘market’) which, however, was not used to refer to this institution before the Roman conquest of Greece and only rarely afterwards. A macellum was a public complex of buildings, which, like a courtyard, was enclosed by walls. Along to the walls, in most cases behind a portico, were little shops or allotments for vendors. The courtyard was frequently qu…

Piscina

(489 words)

Author(s): Kuhn, Christina (Kassel) | Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
(from Latin piscis, 'fish'). [German version] [1] Fish-farm In Greece, fish-farming was practiced in natural bodies of water, more rarely in artificially constructed ponds (Aristot. Hist. an. 592a). Piscinae are known in Rome from the 3rd/2nd cents. BC on (Gell. NA 2,20,6f.), where fish-farming was part of pastio villatica (Varro, Rust. 3,3,1; 3,17,1; Breeding, of small domestic animals); the growing popularity of sea fish lead to the construction of saltwater piscinae (Columella 8,17,1ff.), extremely costly to maintain due to their need for a  continuous supply of…

Meta

(562 words)

Author(s): Käppel, Lutz (Kiel) | Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
[German version] [1] First wife of Aegeus (Μήτα; Mḗta, = Melite: Schol. Eur. Med. 673), first wife of Aegeus (Apollod. 3,207). Käppel, Lutz (Kiel) [2] General [German version] A. Definition The etymology of the Latin term meta is unclear. Basically it describes cone- or pyramid-shaped objects of stone, or sometimes wood, with various functions. In stone as a meta molendaria, the conical lower stone of ancient mills ( mola asinaria, Mill), on top of which the upper stone, the catillus, turned (Dig. 33,7,18,5). Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) [German version] B. Meta in the Roman circus In the Rom…

Thermae

(4,525 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) | Meister, Klaus (Berlin)
[1] Baths [German version] I. Etymology and definition Thermae (fem. pl.) is a Latinization and substantivization of the Greek adjective θερμός/ thermós, 'warm'. The word was used in its Latinized form to describe a bathing establishment, and subsequently passed back into the Greek language in this sense. As in Classical Antiquity, modern scholarship has no precise definition of 'thermal baths' (TB), although it has for the smaller baths ( balnea). TB are normally defined as large, public bathing establishments with a multitude of additional functions. Apart from…

Synagogue

(1,187 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) | Hollender, Elisabeth (Cologne)
(συναγωγή/ s ynagōgḗ, literally 'bringing together', 'assembly'; Latin synagoga). A Greek word that can refer either to the Jewish congregation or to the place (the building) where the congregation comes together. I. Architecture [German version] A. Definition and function The synagogue building consists of a large rectangular room with benches on some or all of its sides, in front of which columns are built. There is often a throne for the leader of the synagogue and a platform ( bêma) from which the Torah is read. A central element is the shrine housing the Torah scrolls…

Circus

(5,211 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) | Hönle, Augusta (Rottweil)
I. Architecture [German version] A. Definition The circus was the biggest of all Roman places of leisure and was initially and mainly used for races with chariots drawn by teams of four or two ( quadrigae or bigae). The canonical circus consisted of a long, comparatively narrow racetrack ( c. 450 × 80 m; arena, from harena-, ‘sand’), on both ends of which three cones ( metae) on a platform served as markers for turning. The track led round a barrier that marked the central axis ( euripus, Greek εὔριπος ( eúripos), ‘water ditch’; later also spina-, ‘backbone, spine’) and that was decorate…

Narthex

(580 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Willers, Dietrich (Berne) | Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
(νάρθηξ; nárth ēx). [German version] [1] Yellow-flowering giant fennel (Latin ferula with uncertain etymology). The umbelliferous plant Ferula communis, the yellow-flowering giant fennel, which Theophrastus (H. plant. 6,2,8f., cf. Plin. HN 13,123) describes [1. 61f. and fig. 95-97]. On the coasts of Greece, on the islands and in Lower Italy this plant grows up to 5 m high. The dried stems were used like a cane for punishment, as the ‘sceptre of paedagogues’ ( sceptrum paedagogorum, Mart. 10,62,10 et passim), but also as a cattle goad and the staff of the Bacchants (Thyrs…

Library

(5,672 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) | Burkard, Günther (Munich) | Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg) | Vössing, Konrad (Aachen)
I. Library buildings [German version] A. Definition A library is a depository or building for books of all kinds. Libraries could be part of private houses, royal palaces, public and religious buildings ( Gymnasium, Forum, Thermae [1]), sanctuaries, or be independent buildings. Only few libraries have been secured or preserved, because most of their constituent elements, including bookcases ( armaria) and furnishings, were made of wood. Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) [German version] B. Greece Book collections have been known in the Greek cultural area since the 6th cent. B…

Palace

(3,814 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) | Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Jansen-Winkeln, Karl (Berlin)
[German version] I. Terminology and Definition The modern term ‘palace’ is derived from the Palatine (Mons Palatinus), one of Rome’s seven hills, on which the residences of the Roman emperors were located. Palaces are buildings that a ruler uses as a residence and for representation. Depending on additional functions, they could have other names in Antiquity, relating to their respective use. Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) II. Ancient Near East [German version] A. Structural History In the Ancient Near East and Egypt, the palace was originally a house with considerably expa…

Temple

(5,554 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Seidlmayer, Stephan Johannes (Berlin) | Hollender, Elisabeth (Cologne) | Niemeyer, Hans Georg (Hamburg) | Höcker, Christoph (Kissing) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia The Sumerian term é and the Akkadian term bītu, meaning 'temple' or 'house (of the deity)', were not restricted to 'dwellings' of deities of a particular size or importance. They applied to sanctuaries from small neighbourhood shrines in residential areas to large, freestanding, tall buildings, from one-room cult sites to temple complexes with extensive auxiliary buildings, and they could be used for temples where one or many deities were worshipped. Prehistoric structures are often classified as temples only because apparently they nei…

Nymphaeum

(1,502 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) | Olshausen, Eckart (Stuttgart) | Zahrnt, Michael (Kiel) | Strobel, Karl (Klagenfurt) | von Bredow, Iris (Bietigheim-Bissingen) | Et al.
I. Sanctuary [German version] A. Etymology and definition The word νυμφαῖον/ nymphaîon is first attested in the 4th cent. BC, on Delos (IG XI,2,144, A l. 91). It originally designated a sanctuary of the nymphs. A nymphaeum is first attested in Itanus on Crete in the 3rd cent. BC together with a water reservoir (ILS 9458). The Latinised form nymphaeum is first found in Pomponius Mela (first half of the 1st cent. AD, Mela 2,3), for a nymph sanctuary in Chersonessus. Conversely, Plinius (HN 35,151) used the word nymphaeum to describe a well with a statue in it (Corinth). The modern t…