A Comprehensive Comparison of the Roman Temple of Portunus and the Great Mosque of Mali

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Let us compare two works of architecture in art history with specific focus on style, purpose and context, as well as engineering: Temple of Portunus (Republican Rome, c. 75 BCE) and the Great Mosque in Djenné, Mali (begun 13th century).

The Temple of Portunus (travertine and stucco) looks like a classical temple derived from the Greek, though it has new innovations we can link with the coming of the Ancient Roman Republic: there is a porch in the front, creating a new kind of column composition and allowing for easier access to the building: there is a directional focus in the front, rather than one that is more sculpturally focused like most Greek architecture as we know it. The temple is dedicated to the livestock and harbors god Portunus, as it is near the river.

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The Great Mosque in Mali is considered the largest mud-built structure in the world. It was an Islamic academic and commerce center soon after its creation. Unique to its location, it sports many traditional Islamic influences, including the traditional quibla which faces east toward Mecca. This is where we see three minarets which look unique as the rest of the building in a smooth mud brick. The minarets contain tops with ostrich eggs which currently represent fertility in the local culture today. Wooden pillars support the structure, spanning the open courtyard. The Great Mosque is still used today.

We can conclude that both the Temple of Portunus and the Great Mosque of Djenné derive their structural style (as well as use) from the respective dominant culture they come from, while also delivering innovative style and ideas. They both played significant roles within their original cultures, though very different ones, seeing as religiously, Romans and Muslims lived very different lifestyles. We can also recognize that the mosque was more of a center, whereas this temple was one of many in its area most likely.

We can compare the temple’s and mosque’s engineering. The temple follows traditional ionic order structure. We see Greek architecture, mainly different in the columns in the back half of the structure: they are attached, not supportive. They are decorative, something different from all the massive Greek works we have awed at before. Above these walls is a roof which closes on traditional pediments.

The mosque is made of mud brick coated with a smooth mud plaster. The structure follows much of the regular Islamic mosque tradition – floorplan, minarets, etc. There are some notable engineering facts around this building. The walls insulate the mosque from heat, while heating the mosque at nighttime. There are branch knobs coming out of the top of the building, which act as structural reinforcements as well as scaffolding for the annual replastering. More efficient power systems have been put in place throughout the reconstructions with focus on water, temperature, and electricity.

We can make a conclusion: both the temple and mosque are wonderful engineering accomplishments, though the mosque is certainly more of a feat. It is also more unique, if not more innovative. Both the temple and mosque call to their cultural traditions in structural aspects and context/purpose while showing an ingenuity.

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A Comprehensive Comparison of the Roman Temple of Portunus and the Great Mosque of Mali. (2020, July 22). WritingBros. Retrieved June 25, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-comprehensive-comparison-of-the-roman-temple-of-portunus-and-the-great-mosque-of-mali/
“A Comprehensive Comparison of the Roman Temple of Portunus and the Great Mosque of Mali.” WritingBros, 22 Jul. 2020, writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-comprehensive-comparison-of-the-roman-temple-of-portunus-and-the-great-mosque-of-mali/
A Comprehensive Comparison of the Roman Temple of Portunus and the Great Mosque of Mali. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-comprehensive-comparison-of-the-roman-temple-of-portunus-and-the-great-mosque-of-mali/> [Accessed 25 Jun. 2024].
A Comprehensive Comparison of the Roman Temple of Portunus and the Great Mosque of Mali [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Jul 22 [cited 2024 Jun 25]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-comprehensive-comparison-of-the-roman-temple-of-portunus-and-the-great-mosque-of-mali/
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