Experts have a new theory that the Pantheom, one of best preserved buildings from the Roman world, may have been built to act as a colossal sundial, designed to illuminate its entrance at the exact moment the emperor entered.
The precise calculations made in the positioning and construction of the Pantheon mean that the size and shape of the beam perfectly matches, down to the last inch, a semicircular stone arch above the doorway.
A similar effect is seen on April 21, which the Romans celebrated as the founding date of their city, when at midday the sun beam strikes a metal grille above the doorway, flooding the colonnaded courtyard outside with light.
The dramatic displays would have been seen by the Romans as elevating an emperor into the realm of the gods – a cosmological affirmation of his divine power as he entered the building, which was used as an audience hall as well as a place of worship.
Story: Nick Squires, The Telegraph | Photo: REX