Ancient Rome: c. 753 B.C.E. – 400 C.E.

The brilliance of ancient Roman art can be seen in the wall paintings of Pompeii, the massive ambition of the Colosseum, and the daring engineering of the Pantheon. According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 B.C.E. by Romulus, its first king. In 509 B.C.E., Rome became a republic ruled by the Senate (wealthy landowners and elders) and by the Roman people. During the 450 years of the republic, Rome conquered the rest of Italy and then expanded into France, Spain, Turkey, North Africa and Greece. Rome, in turn, was heavily influenced by Greek culture. The Republic collapsed in civil war during the 1st century B.C.E. and the Roman empire began. Starting with Augustus in 27 B.C.E., the emperors ruled for five hundred years. They expanded Rome’s territory and by about 200 C.E., their vast empire stretched from Syria to Spain and from Britain to Egypt.




The building technique chosen for a given project can help archaeologists and art historians to understand scale, scope, expense, and technique, alongside other, more aesthetic considerations.

Italo-Roman building techniques


The Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater, or Amphitheatrum Flavium), c. 70-80 C.E., Rome
Gladiators, animal hunts, and executions: learn about the Colosseum, a monumental gift to the Roman people.

The Colosseum










Pompeii, once called the "City of the Dead," gives a marvelous sense of day-to-day Roman life.

Pompeii, an introduction




Second Style painting, cubiculum (bedroom), Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, 50–40 B.C.E., fresco (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii two millennia ago—creating a time capsule of the evolution of Roman painting.

Roman wall painting styles







Still Life with Peaches (left), two dates, a silver tray with prunes, dried figs and dates with a glass of red wine (center), and branch of Peaches, Fourth Style wall painting from Herculaneum, Italy, c. 62-69 C.E., fresco, 14 x 13 1/2 inches (Archaeological Museum, Naples)
Hospitality was key in ancient Rome, and this wall painting shows the gifts that guests may have received.

Still Life with Peaches