Comparing the Pantheon with the Great Stupa

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Joseph Lawson Connecting Heaven and Earth Though the human race has a vast variety of unique cultures and shares many differences, there are also a surprising amount of similarities. This paper aims to look at the similarities and differences of two structures from completely different cultures. The first is the Pantheon, a Roman temple that was built to be “the temple of all Gods”. It was made during the High Empire in Rome, Italy (118-125 CE). The second temple is the Great Stupa, a dome-shaped Buddhist monument from the Maurya Dynasty in Sanchi, India. The structure was built sometime from the 3rd C BCE to 1st C Ce,. Both of these monuments have many similarities and differences in structure and symbolism, but the dominant theme that ties them together is the idea that they connecting our real with the heavenly realm. These buildings came from completely different cultures, yet they have surprisingly similar styles. For example, both buildings require the visitor to first enter though a series of columns before reaching the main attraction. The pillars from both buildings have linear bodies and then expand at the capital. The pillars add both symmetry and expansion (when moving from the confined pillars to the vast main structure) to the space of each building. Another glaring similarity is that the main structure of each of these monuments is a dome. Consequently, both structures are axially aligned around the center of their dome. An esthetic quality that they both share is the tendency to draw the viewer’s eyes to the very top of the dome. For the Pantheon, this is because, when inside the dome, the viewer’s light source comes from an oculus at the top of the dome. There are even a great number of coffers (elaborate depressions in the concrete surface) that assist the eye by pointing to the oculus. Gardner's Art through the Ages reveals

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