Lynne Lancaster Lecture: Technological Innovations in Ancient Rome: What Can Ancient Concrete Tell Us About Roman Society


Location: 104 Bond Hall

Lecture Summary


In this talk, Ms. Lancaster will introduce how Roman and modern concrete are different and then trace 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 look at particular building methods relating to concrete vaulting that were developed to allow the builders to construct larger and more complex structures. Ms. Lancaster will then relate these techniques to the social and economic context in which they occur and explore how this changes over time. Topics include brick stamps and the development of the brick industry and its effect on social mobility, the eruption of Vesuvius and its effect on the availability of building materials, the marble trade and its effect on aesthetic expectations within society, the effect of economic problems of the third century on construction in Rome.



Ms. Lancaster studied architecture at Virginia Tech and graduated with a B.Arch degree in 1987 and then received her doctorate in Classical Archaeology from Oxford University in 1996. In 2001-2002 she was a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. She has published articles on major monuments in Rome including Trajan’s Markets, Trajan’s Column, the Colosseum, and the Pantheon. In 2005 Ms. Lancaster's first book, Concrete Vaulted Construction in Imperial Rome: Innovation in Context (Cambridge University Press) was published and won the Wiseman Book Prize from the American Institute of Archaeology. She then turned her attention to vaulted construction in the Roman provinces, and her second book, Innovative Vaulted Construction in the Architecture of the Roman Empire, 1st-4th Centuries CE (Cambridge University Press) is scheduled to come out in October 2015.