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Roman triumphal arches (fornix, ianus, then arcus triumphalis) are generally categorized into two main types: those with a single arched opening (e.g. Arch of Titus) and those with three openings (e.g. Arch of Septimius Severus), though exceptions such as the four-way tetrapylon (arcus quadrifrons) in Leptis Magna also existed.

What I am curious about, and have not been able to find a satisfactory answer to, is whether there existed some sort of developmental pattern between the two types. By sheer enumeration of extant Roman triumphal arches, it is clear that those with one opening are far more common, but that result may simply be a reflection of the fact that three-arched arcus were more elaborately decorated with pictorial reliefs, thus requiring more resources to construct.

In terms of typological development, it is not clear to me whether the two types were related iterations of a shared prototype, or rather had dissimilar origins. This question could be further broadened to an inquiry into the architectural origin of Roman arcus triumphalis.

Arch of Titus

Arch of Septimius Severus

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    Aren't triumphal archs representations of the doors of a city or a temple? Even Wikipedia says something like that: "The Romans probably borrowed the techniques of arch construction from their Etruscan neighbours.The Etruscans used elaborately decorated single bay arches as gates or portals to their cities" – Carlos Martin May 18 at 9:16
  • I read that too. Problem is that quote, along with its cited sources, did not provide any concrete evidence (preferably in archaeological terms) of said borrowing. I am looking for something that's more than speculation. – mooncatcher May 18 at 9:27
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    Hi, I've added some paragraph breaks. Did you compare arches' construction dates to see if one type started being constructed significantly later than the other? – Spencer May 18 at 12:57
  • I think the side archs were developed to facilitate pedestrian movement. So it depended on the road style, whether it had pedestrian areas or only one common area. – Anixx May 18 at 22:41

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