AbstractsComputer Science

A Computer-Generated Model of the Construction of the Roman Colosseum

by Adrian Hadipriono Tan

Institution: The Ohio State University
Department: Civil Engineering
Degree: MS
Year: 2012
Keywords: Civil Engineering; Computer Science; CGI; computer graphics; computer-generated imagery; digital modeling; digital model; simulation; Colosseum; monument; Roman; ancient Rome; construction; engineering; civil engineering
Record ID: 1933405
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=osu1354683991


This research focuses on the construction process of the Colosseum, the famous ancient Roman amphitheater, by digitally recreating the step-by-step processes that would have been involved in the construction process, demonstrating that the process of retracing the construction of such a large and complex monument presents a variety of challenges. Computer-generated imagery, or CGI, has long been used to recreate ancient structures based on literature and archaeological evidence. Most of the simulations that are generated, however, focus primarily on the appearance of the structures upon completion and during use. Given enough data, computer graphics can serve as an effective tool in simulating the construction of ancient monuments as well, which is demonstrated via the digital (re)construction of the Colosseum as mentioned previously. Through extensive research and on-site analysis, enough dimensions for the construction process and the architectural features and concepts that such a simulation will likely entail can be obtained to create relatively accurate representations, which will in turn serve as a breeding ground for theories concerning their design, construction, and ability to withstand the test of time. In this case, the background of the study is presented in the form of the history of Roman architecture in general and especially of theaters such as the amphitheater, the category which the Colosseum belongs to. This clarification provides a starting point for the research, and forms the precedent for most of the ideas that will be employed. The background of the simulation includes software, in this case Autodesk Inventor, which provides an ideal balance of user-friendliness and complexity handling. Coupling this is a structural analysis of the monument that provides the key dimensions and features that are present in the actual model. With this in mind, the creation of the model, using the functionality of the user interface, is compared to the actual construction, revealing a critical dissimilarity. The model renders the superstructure as one continuous feature, with all the levels being created at once instead of in stages as per the original construction process. In addition to this setback, the modeling procedure is also affected by other complications, most notably the linear correlation between complexity and render time. Large amounts of features such as those seen in the Colosseum would cause the program to potentially stall in a bid to process the corresponding amount of data, which may be due to the dissonance between the computation capabilities of the hardware and the functionality of the software. Technical complications aside, the simulation also shows mixed results conceptually. With technology advanced enough to handle the complexity, the construction stages could theoretically be rendered, but they must be reverse-engineered from the completed model. This precludes using the simulation as a direct influence in both historical studies and civil/green engineering, and…