Roman Domestic Architecture: Development, Design & Style

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  • 0:04 Roman Home
  • 0:40 Roman Apartments
  • 1:45 Roman Houses
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you will explore Roman domestic architecture and discover the buildings in which Romans actually lived. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Roman Home

Welcome to Study Realty, featuring the best homes this side of the 3rd century BC. I heard you've got a thing for ancient Rome, and who doesn't? So, let's see what's on the market. Now, the people of ancient Rome were well known for their architectural achievements, but they didn't just stop at temples and coliseums and triumphal arches. With a society that was relatively wealthy, the Romans built lavish homes and developed a substantial amount of domestic architecture. But don't just take my word for it! Put on your toga and brush up on your Latin, because we are checking out some ancient Roman houses - then you can pick your new home!

Roman Apartments

The insula were Roman apartments
Image of an insula

I don't know what budget you have in mind for your new Roman home, but this is a good place to start. This type of building is called an insula. It's a Roman apartment building. This is where the vast majority of Romans live, from the lower end middle class merchants and servants to upper-middle class shop owners and artisans. In general, insulae have this basic layout. The bottom floor is reserved for shops and businesses, and the apartments are on the higher floors. The more you're willing to spend, the nicer place you'll get, and the closer to the ground floor. The cheapest apartments are on the top, since you have to climb more stairs. However, most insulae do have running water and plumbing, so that's good.

Now, I know it looks empty right now, so try and picture this place for what it can be once you move in. The Roman world is full of artists, so art is pretty affordable. I recommend having one of the walls painted - it will bring some color into room. Many apartments have at least one wall painted with scenes of mythology, landscapes, or other decorations.

So, these are our options for an apartment in the city. Just for fun, let's check out a few full-sized Roman homes.

Roman Houses

We have a few options to look at. This is the most common kind of house, called a domus, an urban home for wealthier Romans. In addition to their domus, many of the wealthiest Romans also owned a villa, a large home outside the city. Villas could be very large, since they are not confined by the physical availability of space in the city, the way a domus is.

The domus and villa both have a similar layout.

A kitchen could be found in the back of the domus
Domus floor plan

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