Stones of Rome

So basically, I've always thought that Ruskin was a bit full of shit, or at least a bit of a drama-queen, with his sighing and panting over the stones of Venice. On the other hand, I have always been a bit intrigued by how local building materials give such distinctive colors to town like Sienna, Assisi, and Florence. Now I'm sold. I picked up a smashing guidebook to Roma (the Oxford Archeological Guide), and under the influence of the sections on Roman building materials I've found myself noticing the incredible variety of techniques and materials used. And while perhaps this is a bit trite, it's the marbles (moreso than the otherwise interesting brick-and-tufa construction, like opus reticulatum and opus vittatum) that have fascinated me.

Here are a couple examples:

Numidian Yellow

numidian yellow

Red Porphyry

red porphyry

The stunning colors are hard to appreciate in these pictures, but it's more than just the colors that I find interesting. Numidian yellow stone comes from the Tunisia, and red porphyry comes from the eastern desert of Egypt. The stories, the politics, and the economics of how they came to Rome, and why these rocks said such powerful things about the Empire... that's what I find so interesting.


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