You don’t need to know the true purpose of a vomitorium to correctly answer the question in the title of this post if you’re familiar with Betteridge’s law of headlines, which states,
Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no. So what, in fact, is (or was) a vomitorium? Simply put, it’s a type of exit, first incorporated into Roman ampitheatres, designed to disgorge large numbers of people from a building as quickly as possible.
This weekend, students in Accella’s Lower Intermediate II classes will sink their teeth into From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers, a dynamite children’s introduction to the history of architecture.
Besides inoculating them against, if Wikipedia is any guide, today’s top misconception about the ancient world (edging out the belief that all gladiators chanted
Hail Emperor, we who are about to die salute you! before battling each other or savage beasts to the death), Paxmann’s engaging two-page spread about Rome’s Colosseum will inform them that much of the structure is built of an engineered material very similar to the concrete in use nowadays, staple-like iron fasteners once joined its large travertine blocks together, and much of the blame for the building’s current still-amazing-but-decidedly-woebegone state has to be laid at the feet of medieval Romans who looted it for building materials.
The variety of architectural styles featured in From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers ranges even wider than its title would suggest. Paxmann begins with a humble French beach dwelling from 400,000 B.C. (huts weren’t augmented with mud until roughly 10,000 B.C.) and takes readers well beyond skyscrapers, all the way to Cook/Fournier-style “blobitecture” and beyond. We have a feeling that the way the author’s fact-rich descriptions of dozens of structures are melded with gorgeous, evocative illustrations by artist Anne Ibelings (check out her take on the Sagrada Família in the snapshot above) is going to make this book a humongous hit with our teams of potential young architects, civil engineers, and urban planners!
If you’ve read all the way to the end of this post and are still wondering what tossing one’s cookies means, you might get a kick out of reading a listicle of euphemisms for the act of vomiting.