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How to Build a Roman Temple Model

Updated August 10, 2017

Building a model of a Roman temple is a fun way to learn about the history and religions of ancient Rome. Whether you're building the model for a school project, for a war games table, or just for fun, you can put it together easily using a few simple parts. If you want to go the extra mile, you can build your temple according to instructions given in authentic Roman architectural writings.

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  1. Draw a plan of your temple. If you're modelling it on an existing temple, base your floor plan on the floor plan of the real temple. If you're making a non-specific temple, you may want to consult the advice on temples given by the Roman architect, Lucretius, who defined ratios for the relationship between the diameter of a column and the size of the temple.

  2. Find a base for your temple. This should be a rectangle of some rigid material, such as medium density fiberboard or insulation foam.

  3. Build a foundation for your temple. You can make this out of several layers of foamboard glued together. Cut steps into each layer of foamboard using a craft knife. Glue the foundation to the base with PVA glue. Cover the exposed foamboard edges with balsa wood.

  4. Place columns on the upper level of the base to determine their locations. Mark these on the base, but do not glue them down yet. The columns should be arranged in a line around the front, back and sides of the foundation. You can cut columns from wooden dowel or plastic pipe or use commercially available models.

  5. Build a cella within the columns. This was a walled room which housed the statue of the god to whom the temple was dedicated. Make the walls from foamboard.

  6. Place a statue of the deity you have chosen within the cella.

  7. Place a lintel made from balsa wood or foamboard on top of the columns. This is a strip that will run around the outside of the structure, supporting the roof.

  8. Build two pediments for the front and rear of the temple. These are triangular structures as wide as the foundation which will form the front and back of the roof.

  9. Add a roof to the temple. Make it from foamboard and decorate it with tiles, using either sheet plastic tiles or dry pasta cut in half. Alternatively, you can leave your temple ruined and roofless.

  10. Paint your temple. Roman temples were often painted in bright colours, especially the pediments.

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Things You'll Need

  • Drawing materials
  • Basing material
  • Foamboard
  • Craft knife
  • PVA glue
  • Balsa wood
  • Model columns
  • Statue
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Plastic tiles or dry tubular pasta

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.

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