Advanced architectural development, across history, is an indication of a settled, progressive and prosperous urban society, where the basics of food, shelter and security have been taken care of. Building structures that can survive the ravages of time usually involved huge amount of labour, resources and naturally, funds. A study of the different structures reveals interesting back stories and legends that often find their way in the art of the structure.
While InterEdge typically seeks to bring you the latest developments in global architecture, every once in a while, we also seek to step back into history. In this issue, we have briefly reviewed some lesser known, but no less brilliant, masterpieces of ancient architecture, that stand as testimony to the advancements in mathematics and sciences of those civilizations.
Advanced architectural development across history is an indication of a settled, progressive and prosperous urban society, where the basics of food, shelter and security have been taken care of. Building structures that can survive the ravages of time usually involved huge amount of labour, resources, and naturally, funds.
As history reveals, architecture that has survived at times, thousands or hundreds of years, had all of the above at its access. Most of these were religious structures as religion was at the core of ancient communities, followed by structures that glorified the government.
In the case of religious building, the architects worked to create an universal and exalted appeal, making the structure the most expressive, the most permanent and the most influential building of the given community.
It is interesting to note that in the older religions, such as those of ancient Egypt and India, the temple was considered the residence of the deity, and entrance into the sanctum was prohibited or reserved for priests; in ancient Greece it contained an accessible cult image, but services were held outside the main facade; and in the ancient Near East and in the Mayan and Aztec architecture of ancient Mexico, where the temple was erected at the summit of pyramidal mounds, only privileged members of the community were allowed to approach.
In later religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, religious worship was based on communal participation in rites held inside each religion’s place of worship. The buildings have even evolved into similar plans, because of a common requirement that the maximum number of worshippers be able to face the focal point of the service.
Funerary architecture that honoured the dead, and served as the resting place of a great saint or a legendary kind are among the finest creations of the ancient times, with the Pyramids of Giza and the many beautiful Basilicas of Northern Europe as examples of such architecture.
Similarly, the government buildings depending on whether they are built for a monarch, a group of elected representatives or for a military power that aspired to rule by brute force, the structures would change. Luxury and detailed decoration marked the palaces of monarchs, open spaces like those seen in Greece can be seen where community was involved in governance. Fortresses and sprawling castles with high walls were visually powerful statements in settlements where the ordinary citizens were expected to fall in line.
Of course, a detailed study of the many different kinds of structures will reveal many interesting back stories, and legends that are often depicted within the walls of these buildings. We hope the few stories here will arouse your curiosity and encourage you to discover more of what lies inside these amazing structures that have stood witness to the evolution of human civilization. Do explore.