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The atrium house and Roman gardens are characteristic features of ancient Rome. They appeared in the Bronze Age and are still quite popular in the Mediterranean as well as the rest of the world (Bergmann, 2012). They had many meanings including some practical aspects, spiritual, and recreational. To understand the significance of the atrium house and Roman gardens to people who lived in the Bronze Age, it is necessary to consider basic peculiarities of these features of the ancient Roman dwelling.
What Are Atrium Houses and Gardens of Rome?
The atrium house is a dwelling that has an open court in the center. The atrium played an important role as it was the major source of air and water for the house. In the center of the atrium, there was a pool that was a reservoir for rainwater (Fazio, Moffett, & Wodehouse, 2013). There were several types of atriums. Some of them had columns to support the roof, but the vast majority of ancient Roman atriums did not have columns. This place was regarded as the heart of the dwelling, so it was decorated heavily. Apart from the decorated pool, there could be busts of the master of the house as well as his ancestors or relatives (Bergmann, 2012). Atriums often had shrines to worship such spirits as the Penates and the Lares. Atriums were connected with fauces (throat) – a corridor that united the street and the atrium. It is noteworthy that all Roman dwellings had atriums. The difference between the house of the rich and the poor was mainly in their atriums’ decoration.
Roman gardens were often a part of the dwelling, but they did not occupy the central place. They could be in the backyard or any part of the yard (Grafton, Most, & Settis, 2010). The major peculiarities of the garden of Rome are ornamental trees and numerous (or, at least, several) flower beds. Rich people had gardens in their yards.
Significance of the Places
During the times of Ancient Rome, atriums and Roman gardens played several roles. As has been mentioned above, there were some practical uses. For instance, atriums were major sources of air and rainwater for the entire house. Apart from that, this was the place where the master of the house met guests or clients (Bergmann, 2012). Family members also got together in this place. Atriums were also a space for contemplation.
As for Roman gardens, they also had a practical use. They were used for horticulture. In other words, people consumed the fruit grown. Apart from that, the garden of Rome was also a place of contemplation and recreation. People spent a lot of time there when they wanted to relax and have a rest from the fuss of their urban lives. Of course, people often arranged meetings in those places.
On balance, it is possible to note that the atrium house and the garden of Rome had many features in common when it came to their use. They had some practical uses, but they were mainly characterized by the spiritual component. Atriums and Roman gardens were used as a place for meeting and contemplating. Thus, it is possible to note that those were places that contributed to the transfer of the culture and values of older people to younger generations.
Bergmann, B. (2012). The Roman world. In S.E. Alcock & R. Osborne (Eds.), Classical archaeology (pp. 228-249). Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.
Fazio, M.W., Moffett, M., & Wodehouse, L. (2013). A world history of architecture. London, UK: Laurence King.
Grafton, A., Most, G.W., & Settis, S. (2010). The classical tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.