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Masonry Analysis and Building Techniques at Ostia
Building techniques changed distinctively over the centuries during which Ostia flourished and declined. The following examples of wall facing illustrate some of the major phases of construction at the Ostian synagogue. The changes in techniques that took place were a result of the larger phenomenon of growth or decline in the construction industry throughout the Roman world. Factors such as efficiency and scale of an imperial building program played a significant role in how and why construction processes changed as they did.
Opus Mixtum A: Reticulate facing made up of small squares (conical in depth) set diagonally in a regular net pattern, with leveling bands of lateral brick (opus latericium, usually from 3-6 courses) at regular intervals. Quoins consist of tufa block. Mixtum A was mainly used from the mid-first through the second century C.E. although some later examples are known, as well.
Opus Mixtum B: Reticulate facing and latericium bands (as in Variant A), but with brickwork (latericium) quoins. The pattern of quoins interlocking with facing is similar to Mixtum A. Mixtum B is sometimes found on interior walls, where the exterior of same wall is faced entirely in opus latericium.
Opus Latericium A: Regular courses of lateral brick work for the facing of wall continuous through the quoins and corners. Bricks are cut triangularly and vary in size. Opus latericium was used from the mid first century C.E. onward.
Opus Vittatum A: Facing in alternate courses of block and brick in a 1:1 ratio. The blocks are generally well cut and consistent in size. Vittatum A was used from the late third century C.E. into Late Antiquity.
Sear, Frank. 1982. Roman Architecture. Cornell University Press.
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