Earth Day’s Connection to the Pantheon
For Earth Day, we focus on the significance of brickstamps for the dating of the Pantheon. The Pantheon’s architectural design is particularly apt for Earth Day since the doubling of its dome creates a sphere which fits perfectly within the cylindrical walls of the structure. Although the inscription on the facade says that Agrippa built it (M Agrippa LFCos Tertium fecit), the building history of the building is more complex. The first Pantheon was built by Agrippa in 27 BC. That building was damaged in the fire of AD 80 that ravaged the Campus Martius and it was restored by Domitian. In AD 110, Agrippa’s Pantheon was struck by lightning and replaced by the current building. Until the late 19th-century, it was thought that anomalies in its construction where the result of the different building phases. At the end of the 19th century, the French architect argued that the building was built entirely in the Hadrianic period (AD 118-126, see his model).
Simultaneously, Dressel was developing a methodology for Roman brickstamps, later further reveled by Bloch. From the 1st century BC a percentage of bricks were stamped with the name of the owner of the brickworks, the foreman and Workman plus the place of production. Some brick stamps included the name of the 2 consuls for the year and can be precisely dated. The traditional dating of the Pantheon to the Hadrianic period is based on Bloch’s reading of its brickstamps. More recently, Hetland has reinterpreted the Pantheon brickstamps to date the building to the Trajanic period, since the vast majority of the dateable brick stamps date to the Trajanic-early Hadrianic period. This argument is convincing given the date of the lightning strike in AD 110 (Trajan ruled until his death in 117BC) and for stylistic reasons.