Domitian's Palace - Ancient Rome - Flavian Palace
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Domitian's Palace

Map

This is the facade, or front entrance, to the palace

March 2017 - Vespasian, the first emperor of the Flavian Dynasty in Rome, had been popular because he lived plainly and acted like he was equal to everyone else. His son Domitian was different. He wanted everyone to know that he was the Emperor and he was more important than everybody else. Besides, Roman government was getting pretty complicated, and they really needed a big building where all the different slaves and freedmen who worked for the government could have offices. So in the 90s AD, Domitian had his architects build him a great palace on the Palatine hill in Rome. (We get our word "palace" from the name of the hill).

Domitian was able to build a huge palace relatively quickly and cheaply because his architects used a new building method (which Nero had also used in his Golden House) of bricks and concrete. Over the bricks, Domitian had marble facings, to make it all look like marble, but over the years most of the marble has been stolen away, so now only the brick and concrete are left.


Here's a place where some of the marble is still in place on the wall.

Domitian's palace had three main areas. The first was a public courtyard, with big public rooms all around it. This was where Domitian met visiting ambassadors from other countries, or made important public announcements, or held big formal parties. There was a huge throne room on one side of the courtyard, and a huge dining room on the other side, and lots of smaller rooms as well for meetings and conferences.

Domitian's throne room was so big that we can't understand how he could have put a roof on it without the roof falling in, using Roman technology. Some people think the throne room must have had a wooden roof, while others think it could have been done in brick and concrete. Today, none of the roof is left to tell us.

Learn by doing: build a big room out of Lego and figure out how to put a roof on it
A Private Courtyard of Domitian's Palace

Bibliography and further reading about Domitian's palace:

You Are in Ancient Rome, by Ivan Minnis (2004). For younger kids.

Ancient Rome: A Guide to the Glory of Imperial Rome, by Jonathan Stroud (2000). A day as a time-travelling tourist in ancient Rome, for kids.

Houses, Villas, and Palaces in the Roman World, by Alexander McKay (1998). A good section on Domitian's palace.

Roman Architecture, by Frank Sear (1983). The standard college textbook.

The Architecture of the Roman Empire: An Introductory Study, by William MacDonald (1982). Actually not so introductory, but it's got great illustrations that really make the building techniques clear. A great section on the roofing of Domitian's throne room.

Roman Imperial Architecture, by J. B. Ward-Perkins (1992). A more detailed textbook, and harder going.

Roman Architecture
Ancient Rome
Quatr.us home


LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Quatr.us Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more?
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 30 April, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT