[This Guide updated on 2/27/2012]
This is Stug's guide to building Ancient Roman structures in Minecraft. It will be updated periodically with new structures, fixes, and details. This guide will provide the information and advice needed to make a decent Roman structure in minecraft, starting with simple structures such as small temples and housing.
Chapter 1: Basics
What we will cover:
The ancient Romans created a massive variety of structures, varying on where they were building and what climate they were dealing with. Use of marble, stone, brick, glass, clay, sandstone, and even dirt was known in construction throughout the vast Roman empire. In this guide, however, we will only deal with what is considered "Classic" Roman architecture, native to Italy and the Mediterranean.
The primary sources I will use will be from the excavations of Rome, Ostia, Pompeii, and other well-preserved Roman cities. I may stray away towards Trier in Germany, but only briefly, as the arena there is something good to analyze.
Romans And How They Built:
The Roman buildings we are dealing with were mainly stone, brick, and marble. It is to be noted that when marble is mentioned in a Roman structure, it is only marble-clad. The Romans only occasionally made structural elements out of solid marble! The Romans also used about 4-6 centimeters of a material called Stucco stuck to walls, which is a plaster-like material they would put on the inside and outside of most structures, giving them a white appearance. Often, paintings and frescos were incorporated into this material as it was drying, giving the interior of most buildings a very colorful look, varying on how rich the owner was. Stucco was also used as insulation, a much-needed household element as the Mediterranean sun is quite hot and intrusive.
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Chapter 2: Building a Roman House (Domus)
Now to explain how to build a basic Roman house in Minecraft. The Ancient Roman house is known as a Domus and were often one or two stories high. The diagram below is a good example of a typical Roman home.
As you can see from this illustration, the Roman home is very unlike many homes today. It is very open in the center, with no exterior windows. The lack of exterior windows allows for greater privacy and security. You can also see that they had their own garden, a central peristyle (the big open space with columns) as a "backyard" or garden, and an atrium with a smaller hole in the roof for gathering rain water. In this model, the kitchen is outdoors, but in some, it is contained with small windows as vents.
Here I will show you how I made a small version of this particular domus, starting with the general layout of a domus:
Stage 1: Outline
This is a very general layout, and not all buildings were layed out like this. It is just important to include the atrium (small pond) and peristyle (green garden). Some buildings would have two peristyles or two atriums, even. Also note the front entrance (left side of pic) is rather broad, and another entrance (not shown) would be somewhere on the opposite side of the building. Now for some decorative floors!
Stage 2: Floors, walls
Note how open the passage through the entire building is! This was to allow air to pass through the whole building and cool the occupants during hot days. Doors were few, and only on storage areas and perhaps the kitchen. The next step would be to add the roof, which, in this case, is very shallow. Domii had very shallow angles to their roof-line, usually.
Stage 3: Roof
And you are done at this point! This is a simple 1 story Domus. The example I used today is more of an upper-class domus, which is huge. You can copy this same style and scale it down to a manageable size, but with less room, of course. Some poor domii only had an atrium, cutting down on size dramatically, and some domii were even L shaped. If you want a second story, all windows must face inwards, like in this example:
Chapter 3 - Building Temples
Roman temples varied in material, design, and function. Most Roman temples in the mediterranean seemed to be built of Stone and "plated" in White, red, and black marble. The frieze (the lowest band around the top of the temple) often had inlaid, painted sculpture.
Roman temples had a variety of designs and layouts, but certain rules were almost always followed. Though based off Greek temples, Roman temples had a very different layout. A safe bet for building a temple follows this design, using either 6 or 8 columns in the front row:
As you can see, unlike Greek temples, this temple does not have a colonnade surrounding the building. The Cella (main chamber of the building) actually takes up the entire back 2/3 of the temple's platform, and is decorated and supported by engaged columns (columns that are set into a wall). Here is my example from minecraft:
I marked each column with a red dot, to be seen easier. This is a typical design seen throughout the roman empire for Temples. The Romans also had altars right in front of some temples for sacrifices, and many religious ceremonies were actually done outside, not inside the temple, as the Temple was the house for the god.