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Vol. 52 (2011) No. 1 March n. 167

Investigation of the Cross Section of the Pantheon Dome through Catenary Mechanism

< Table of Contents for Vol. 52 (2011) No. 1 March n. 167
  • Journal Name: Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (J. IASS)
  • ISSN: (Electronic Version) 1996-9015
  • ISSN: (Print Version) 1028-365X
  • Issue: Vol. 52 (2011) No. 1 March n. 167
  • Pages: 19-23
  • Title: Investigation of the Cross Section of the Pantheon Dome through Catenary Mechanism
  • Author(s): R. Goshima, H. Ohmori, N. Hagiwara and N. Aoki
  • Keywords: Pantheon, Empirical rule, Double square, Catenary arch, Variational functional
The Pantheon in Rome, constructed almost 2000 years ago, is a rationally designed spatial structure. How was this rationality achieved? During a dimensional investigation of the Pantheon we noticed that the double square diagram may have been used. Hence, in this paper we develop and apply to the Pantheon the theory of the catenary arch with varying cross-section. For a long time masonry and concrete structures have relied on the catenary profile for stability. Catenary arches are not simple structures such as cables as their mass density changes in the axial direction. Considering this characteristic, we first performed an experiment with a catenary arch using a chain, the configuration of which follows the cross-section in the above-mentioned diagram, in order to investigate how the configuration of the arch changes with the mass distribution of the arch. With this approach, the rationality of the cross-section of double square in the Pantheon as an empirical rule was proved. In this paper, a numerical approach for the form finding of a catenary with variable mass density is presented and applied to an investigation of the way in which ancient builders found the form of the cross-section of the Pantheon.

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