Built 18 Centuries ago, the magnificent ancient priceless Patheon is one the grandest architectural structures of all time. Its structural features suggest the perfection of its design and beauty. It was as a result of renovations and reconstructions after the great fire in Rome in AD 64 when Nero was Emperor. It secretly contains volcanic ash in its walls among other unraveled secrets.
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After several reconstructions, the Patheon today maintains a dome shape. Like other world biggest ancient domes such as the Turkey’s Hagia Sophia, Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral), St. Paul’s Cathedral in England and Germany’s Reichstag, it was probably built for religious functions. The interior of the dome contains niches around the wall that historians believe were structures of altars of various gods. There are seven niches for altars. In ancient Rome at the time the present Patheon was finally built, there only seven known planets. Historians, therefore, believe that the altars were dedicated to the worship of Planets as gods rather than the Emperor’s glory as some historians with contrary opinion suggest.
Over the top of the dome is a hole nine meters in diameter at the roof that allows sunlight (and rain) into the building. This space is called the Oculus and it is specially designed to allow the shaft of light to shine across the entire interior of the Patheon. The path of the shaft is definite and marked strongly suggesting that the building was used as an observatory of the sun to estimate time and seasons.
Historians believe that the Oculus was used as a sun-dial and for planetary observations since it is unique in its feature. There is no evidence of any other religious temple with an Oculus or any accurately designed sunlight space built at the time. Moreover, looking up directly from the dome at the Oculus, we see the ring surrounded by five coffers. The five coffers represent the five planets besides earth surrounding the sun according to the scientific knowledge available then.