It is amazing to me how from the beginning of any recorded history whether through pictures or written symbols, the remants of fragments of tools, earthen ware, and even human remains tells the story of man's creative talent in discovering his world and realizing in his creation that there is a power higher than himself, a Supreme Creator.
In studying the History of Architecture John Ruskin states it best "Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts- the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood without the other, but of the three the most important and most trustworthy is the book of his art." 2. Roth p.5
We started out with nature's structures and how man made structures for shelter for himself according to the environment he existed in. Whatever was available in that particular environment to make some form of shelter to keep the elements away from himself and to survive. The first structures were made of mud, stones, animal skins, if man lived in mountainous areas it might have been a cave; in the woods shelter made of sticks and limbs of trees covered with mud or animals skins. None the less man used what was available to construct structures for living in. "Architecture is understood to be the whole of human Built environment as a form of dialogue with the past and and future...." 1. Roth
We spoke about the elements of design in architecture; Commodity, Firmness, and Delight.
Commodity : According to Marcus Vitruvius Pollio 90c -20bc architecture must provide utility, firmness, and beauty. Commodity has to do with what it is used for. Firmness has do with the foundation of a structure,ie ( post and lentels; ie. trabeated system.) Beauty or Delight is the appealing basis of the structure, space, perceptual space, conceptual space, behavioral space, physical space, fluidity of space interwoven spaces as constrast to static space, negative and positive space....balance,sysmetry,contrast, color, texture, sound, scale, and repetiton.etc....
In first recorded history we discussed the rements of post and lentels left by ancients people unknown, Stonehenge in Salisbury, England, the Stones on Easter Island, same in Brittany France, strange stones left on the ground in a vertical position and we can only speculate what they mean.
The one area where we do began to understand and have meaning is with the Egyptian culture and how the afterlife was as important as living in the present if not more. They built pyramids to honor the kings (Pharaohs) of their country. They believe in honoring their dead kings and often buried all his staff and family members with him upon his death. Their bodies were mumified using special oils and herbs, their internal organs were extracted and put in jars. Pharaohs were buried in simple tombs but robbers would come and pillaged the tombs. Later an Egyptian architect Imhotep discovered a way to hide the Pharaohs underneath the pyramid. Robbers still found a way in, so they began to bury their Pharaohs in unmarked tombs hidden in a place called the Valley of the Kings.
Imhotep's invention of a hidden chamber for the Pharaohs.
The Eypgtians were extremely brilliant race of people which puzzle even today arhaeologist , scientist and architects. Why were they so comsumed with life after death did they know something we don't even today? The largest of the Pyramids is the Great Pyramid at Giza near Cairo the present capital of Egypt today. This pyramid ranged in height about 750 ft in width and 482 ft high. It was built with over 2 million stones weighing atleast 2 tons each. this tomb was built 100 years after Imhotep's death. 1) Understanding Architecture-history and theory. p201 Roth. Besides the tombs the Egyptians constructed Temples one of the most famous it the Temple of Amon at Karnak. These temples were not only places of worship but centers for learning and administration of their nation. they were built on an axis that ran perpendicular to the nile river toward the winter solsttice with the sun. The Egyptians were the first people to believe in a single god RA. They had hierachcy system were Kings ruled but the common people lived in villages They valued bigness geometric form, sharp edged with the obelisk, pyolon and hypostyle hall.
The Egyptians were conquered by the Greeks during the time of Alexander the Great. The Greeks learned many things about architecture from Egyptian modeling their post and lentel . Due to the landscape of Greece the Greeks became master seamen. Their livilyhood depended upon the sea and trade with other countries. The Minoans were the first inhabitants of Greece during the Homeric Age. After the Minoans fell came the Myceanaean citadels. the citadels were build on strategic hills and were enclosed by strong curtain wallings. At the upper end was the palace where the ruler lived and the dwellings of important leaders. Most other inhabitates lived outside the citidel's walls. Citadels were entered through monumental gates. One the most famous is Lion's Gate at Mycenae. This consisted of two vertical stones an a vast lintel above this a carved relief of two lions. A common form of ornamentation in Minoan and Mycenaean palaces was the triglyph frieze or motif made of half rosettes divided by vertical bands. It is believed to be the precusor for the Doric Frieze of metopes and triglyphs. Roth 206
The Megaron was the central complex of a palace and the main domestic unit. It was a long narrow suite composed of a columned porch an ante chamber,prodomus and the megaron proper. In the proper there was a raised throne and was centered around a fixed circular hearth framed by four wooden columns supporting the roof. The floor of this megaron was painted with checkered pattern while the walls were adorned with frescoes. The Mycenaean were noted for their tholos tombs or beehive shaped tombs. Outside of these tombs were two highly decorated columns the most famous was made of green alabaster designed with chevons and spirals.
Another group of conquerers came from the north called the Dorians crushing the Mycenaean culture. Some of groups fled to Asia Minor and to the Anatolian coast. The Dorians contributed a language and a new group of gods who ruled on Mt Olympus in the North of Greece. These gods replaced the gods of the Minoans and Myceaneans. Stone architecture was re-introduced and this was the beginnings of Classical Greece. Greece began to colonize the Mediterranean due to poor agriculture and raw materials. From southern Italy to the Black sea founding cities along the Spanish and French coast. Other colonies were founded in Cyrene, North Africa and Naucratis in the delta of lower Egypt. The Greek colonies were called "way homes" not colonies in the sense of the later European colonies. Colonization spread the Greek language which became an international way of communication. The mixing of the Minoan/Mycenaean culture with the Dorians created a Greek character embrasing inquistiveness, a love of action and a desire to achieve perfection in human intellect along with phyiscal endeavors. the Greeks wanted to understand their gods. how the world as they knew it operated. They created a language inorder to record their finding. p. 217 Roth
In eveything the Greeks sort after balance and symmetry having like measure. Nothing in nature seemed without order. Even the gods had reason for their actions. Heraclitus describe the cosmos as a balance of such opposites as day and night, hot and cold, health and disease.
Greece produced philosophers such as Atistotle devoted to study of the natual world, Plato observed how things worked, the Ionian philosopher Pythagoras of Samos estabished a colony of followers proposing that everything is based on numbers. He founded musical harmony, conceived of the trianglular and square numbers and provided a proof of the concept used by the Egyptians and Mesopotamians that the area of a square constructed on a hypotenuse of a right triangle was the sum of the areas of square numbers made on the other two sides. Carpenters still use this theory today.
The Dorians introduced their sky gods Olympian gods were described in Greek myths in human terms and depicted in perfect human form. The Greek myths described the misadventures of the gods how not to organize and conducts one's life. Zeus was their male god of thunder, and Hera was female companion. Many temples were built to the gods combining male and female attributes. Twelve Olympian gods were worshipped by all Greeks and temples were erected in their honor. Zeus of Olypia, Poseidon at Sounion, Athens had Athena, Athena Parthenos maiden worrier. The Greeks did not necessarily believe in the after life like the Egyptians.
Another important contribution to the world was the invention of democracy in the polis of Athens. "city-state". The Polis was a community of families related by a common ancestor a person did not move into or join a city you had to be born a member. The Polis consisted of the city and surrounding farms. The polis was a communal life of the people, political, cultural and economical. Everyone in the community had a say on how a city was run.
After Greek and Persian war cities were rebuilt Hippodamos was credited with planning new cities. The Greek peninsula was divided into three sections wtih a bouleutarion in the middle.(a house designed to house a boule or councilman). Most civic and commercial business was transacted in the open air in the agora, the private houses of Greece were small and simple until the 4th century BC. Greek enters the Hellenistic period. The largest Greek public buildings were the open air theaters and stadia for athletic competitions. A stadion meant a unit of distance about 656 ft. a stadium structure had tiers of seats usually used only certain times of the year. Plays and theater played an important part in Greek life. Drama productions began as religious rituals for the god Dionysos. Comedies of Aristophanes played an important part in the civic life of Greece. The plays contributed to the education of the Greek populace as a form of entertainment which was adapted by the Roman civilization later.
The most important building in Greek civilization was the Temple. The temple was for the populace but only the priests and selected officials could actually enter it. The exterior of the temple was lavished with artistic attention. Rituals were celebrated at the altar in front of the temple. In 1050 BC the temple emerges from a wooden structure with upright columns completely around a central chamber. The columns of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders came out of these first crude tree type columns. The sacred temenos of Olypmpia is a good example of a temple.The precinct is framed by the bouleutarion on the south a stoa in the east, and a small range of city treasuries in the hill of kronos to the north. At the north edge is the temenos is the temple to Hera, wife of Zeus. The principal building was a large temple dedicated to Zeus built by the Elis' in 468-80 bc this was a Doric structure. The Periclean building of the Acropolis the Parthenon and the Propylaea represent Doric architecture. Greece gave us the Classical Orders these orders were adapted by the Romans. They made the columns more ornate. The orders became part of the basic architectual volcabulary.
In all the Greek orders the height of the column and the relative size of all the related component parts as well as the entablature are porportional derivatives based on the diameter of the column. Doric column was the most massive. Ionic was more slender. The Corinthian order column is ten times the height of its diameter and is the tallest of the three. The Greek orders were adopted by the Romans who used them as decoration. One of the principal changes introduced by the Romans was making the Doric order into a more slenderr tuscan Doric with the addition of a base and smooth unfluted shaft. The other major composite order formed by placing the volutes of the Ionic capital atop the curled acanthus leaves of the Corinthian.
Roman Architecture: The Romans conquered Greece and adaptes their column system only basically using it as decorative pilasters. Arches and vaults and domes are introduced. Several arches placed end to end form an arcade.. Romans used this structual action to build their arcades and aqueducts. Vaults are built up of arches pushed through space forming a semicirular vault called a tunnel or barrel vault. Usually these masonry vaults are placed on thick walls used as buttresses holding the vault up. An example of a barrel vault raised to great height is the nave of Saint -Sernin, in Toulouse,France, in 1077-1096. p. 34 Roth. A solution devised by Romans architectures was to run additional barrel vaults at right angles to the main vault so that they intersected resulting in a groin vault, opened up by wide semicircular lunettes at each end and the along the sides. The three bay groin vault was used in the baths of Rome and later in the Basilica's.
Domes are arches rotated about its center vertical axis a semicircular arch thus makes a hemispherical dome. The Romans used domes for structural reasons and symbolic reasons suggesting overarching heavens. The most impressive dome was the dome in the Pantheon Rome. The span of the dome is 142ft 6in.
The most important of symbolic building for the Romans was the Pantheon due to the space in enclosed alone. The Pantheon was built by Hadrian around 118 CE it was a temple to all the gods. He invisioned the earth as a dish and the heavens as a dome covering the earth. The term Pans is Greek for all and theos meant god. The Pantheon was a culmination of important experiments that had been pursued for over two centuries. p259 Roth. Another important structure was the Golden House, Domus Aurea for Nero 64-68 CE. this was a complex of interconnected geometric volumes its rooms covered nearly every known type of vault and dome.octogonal room covered by an octagonal vault that became hemispherical toward the top opening to a large oculus.
Rome was an empire which included whole of Mediterranean basin and Europe. Romans took pride in being self governing . The Romans conquered Carthage during the Punic Wars, Macdonia and Syria. The empire expanded from Gibraltar and Gual to Armenia, Palestine and Egypt in the west. After Julius Caesar's death there was a civil war in Rome and Octavian tried to resume order. He ruled for forty one years. The time was marked with peace much of the best architecture was built during periods of peace and expansion of economic development.
After Octavian there were other emperors not as good, Julio-Claudian, Caligula and Nero, Vespasian, and Flavian. Rome suffered enternal striff then there came a period of five years of peace. Pax Romana under Maarcus Aurelius the empire began to fall apart. Emperor Diocletian divided the empire into two sections to be administered by two co-equal emporers. This did not work. In 324 CE Constantine moved the imperioal captial to a new city he founded at the entrance to the Black Sea on the old Greek city of Byzantium and called it the new Rome.
Under Constantine the city was called Constatinople. Under Constantine Rome became united and mainly Christian.