The concept of expression through architecture

human history, the concept of expression through architecture, stone, granite, metal, wood and concrete has extended through the course of human history. Since the dawn of time man has attempted to express himself and his surroundings as well as convey messages through structures. Man has honored himself, royalty and deities through constructions of ornate structures that posses such detailed reliefs as to leave the archeologist, architect and anthropologist spell bound as to the level of detail utilized by these primitive peoples. The evolution of architectural structures and techniques has evolved continuously as man has improved his ability to utilize those tools that are at his disposal.

The ancient Sumerians and Babylonians utilized various stone structures to create their structures. The ancient Romans utilized stone columns and high arches to construct ornate structures that housed government, ancient houses of worship and residential spaces. Roman architecture was the predicate for those architectural principles that modern architecture relies upon to this very day. Similarly, Ancient Greek architecture also contributed to the rapid advancement of design and building principles that are employed by modern architecture. Ancient Egyptians incorporated advanced usage of angles that utilize sophisticated principles of physics and mathematics.

The purpose of this section is to review the main pieces of literature that discuss the principles of design from Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome. Each of these periods represents a critical step in the development of fundamental architectural concepts that have proven critical for the development of Western Architecture. Furthermore, this section will discuss certain, pivotal periods within each ancient historical context to highlight the main developments that have fostered the extension and evolution of architectural principles throughout the various historical contexts.

Architectural History of Mesopotamia

Mesopotamian architecture can be delinted into several distinct stages. These stages are the Akkadian Period (2370 BC-2230 BC), Noe-Sumerian Period (2230-2000 BC), Isin-Lasra Period (2006 BC-1600 BC) and the Noe-Assyrian Period (1000 BC-612 BC) (Adams 59). Each of these periods contain their own unique attributes to ancient art and architecture. To adequate understand the development of Mesopotamian architecture one has to have a firm grasp of the region, its geography and regional customs that influenced the various architectural representations.

Mesopotamia includes the lands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in what is now Iraq. Biblical scholars refer to this area as the proposed location of the mythical “Garden of Eden” where man first emerged into creation. The Mesopotamian culture persisted in this region due to Sumerian speaking individuals from approximately 3500 BC to 359 BC (Akkermans 15). During this period a great development of contrasting architectural developments transpired. Mesopotamian geography is divided into two sections, the Northern Section and Southern Section (Akkermans 22).

The Northern section had cave dwelling humans from the Paleolithic Age (Old Stone Age) until 2000 BC. At this point tribes dependent on agriculture deriving its sustenance from rainfall began to populate the Southern section (Le Miere 16). This section of Mesopotamia was not fully settled until sometime after the 6th Millennial when a rudimentary form of irrigation was introduced into the farmland making it easier for individuals in this area to deliver much needed water to their crops (Blacham 8). The development of this form of irrigation allowed those in the Southern region to develop more effective crop management, specifically the palm date and barley (Blackham 12). As a direct result, cities began to develop in the southern region of Mesopotamia. Cities also began to develop in the Northern section of Mesopotamia at this time period as well, leading to divergent cultural characteristics.

The divergent cultural conditions between the two sections of Mesopotamia lead to the first emergence of what academia now refers to as “Multi-Culturalism.” This “Multi-Culturalism” developed the stark contrasts in architectural styles. The architectural styles incorporated into Mesopotamian culture were derived from the culture centers around the region, some of these influences extended through the Middle East as far as Egypt. The architectural style or “stages” of Mesopotamian had their origination in the Akkadian Period between 2370 and 2230 BC (Charvat 79).

This period refers to the first Mesopotamian “dynasty” that was comprised of a ruling class from the city of Akkad that were primarily Sumerian speaking individuals. Although this was the first dynastic period of Mesopotamia, it does not reveal a great deal of specific architectural pieces. Rather, this was the period where Mesopotamian thematic representations were first introduced (Robinson 101). Mesopotamian architecture in this period, reflected their heroes in religious contexts. However, rather than focusing on expressing the narrative of a religious event, the Mesopotamian architecture of this time focused rather on expressing the role of the individual through stone motifs and barif reliefs that depicted prehistoric battles between good and evil. The second phase of Mesopotamian architecture referred to as the Noe-Sumerian period resulting in the overthrow of the Akkad dynasty.

In about 2230 BC, a band of mountaineers, the Guti, overthrew the Akkadian empire. The following period was marked by a Sumerian revival under the kings of Ur, who drove off the Guti and then ruled over Sumer and Akkad from c.2120 to 2000 BC. Early in this period the rulers of the city-state of Lagash built temples and produced sculpture that differed greatly from Akkadian art. Gudea, ruler of Lagash, commissioned a series of hard-stone sculptures in which he is depicted as a humble and pious worshiper of the gods, rather than as their equal (Dalley 35).

A characteristic form of temple used during this period was the so-called broad cella — a broad and shallow room approached through a series of entrance halls and courts. In this temple the statue of the god, or in some cases the deified ruler, could be glimpsed from afar. The statue was kept separate from the worshiper not by the layout of the temple as in earlier times, but by the many axially arranged spaces that separated the worshiper from his god.

Compared to the architectural remains, Noe-Sumerian art is scarce. Those pieces which have been preserved are religious and conservative, yet exquisitely crafted, as is the art of Gudea. The designs of cylinder seals are rigidly composed, with a similar preponderance of religious themes. Foundations of the vernacular architecture of Mesopotamia were laid in the Neolithic age. Ever since that time the walls of local houses have been built of clay or stone with ceilings of timber. Reed matting, lying on these, was, in its turn, covered by well-trampled layers of clay which sometimes received a protective layer of bitumen. In 2000 BC the Noe-Sumerian period ended when Ur was overthrown by the Ameroites a Semitic people who absorbed into the city-state of Babylonia. The architectural evidence of these two periods is not very extensive. Nothing is known of Babylon at this time, and the most impressive building yet excavated is the palace at Mari, a powerful trading center before it fell (c.1760 BC) to Hammurabi (Wallenfels 120). Little evidence of architectural significance developed during the Babylonian period. However, the following Noe-Assyran period was the largest Mesopotamian kingdom and as a direct consequence this was the period of greatest Architectural expansion.

The architecture of that very early time displays some features which are unique and easily recognized. Terracotta cones or pegs of various kinds adorned mud-brick walls, inserted into the brickwork so that their heads formed a decorative mosaic-like facade. These artifacts, together with clay sealings impressed by cylinders, are the distinctive objects which allow Mesopotamian contact and influence to be traced beyond the boundaries of the homeland, and they show an influence far wider than anyone suspected a few decades ago (Akkermans 89). Terracotta cones and cylinder seal impressions have now been found on numerous archaeological sites in north Syria and south-eastern Turkey, particularly in settlements along the banks of the upper Euphrates river. In Egypt too they have been found: cones at Buto in the western delta of the Nile, and cylinder-seal impressions at Abydos. For the next 3,000 years seals and sealings transported artistic motifs in miniature to far-distant regions (Robinson 74).

Several designs for arches and vaults have been found in Mesopotamia much earlier than elsewhere. Brick arches both slightly pointed and virtually flat, vaults laid both with pitched and with radial bricks, and a pitched brick vault resting on pendentives have been found on excavations from at least 2000 BC in temples and tombs (Dalley 104). Plastered temple facades which imitate a grove of trees also go back to the third millennium. They were made with specially molded bricks. By about 1500 BC they were combined with the figures of deities set in between the pillar-trunks. These were common to the architecture of many major temples, in both the north and the south of the country. Similar effects are found much later in Classical and Hellenistic temples (Charvat 105).

The Persians have managed to achieve a favorable public image by comparison with the Assyrians through the bias of Old Testament writers, but in fact their own inscriptions show that they tortured and killed rebels and deported people from conquered lands in much the same way, although they encouraged deportees from previous regimes to return: Ninevites to Nineveh, Tyrians to Tyre, and Judaeans to Jerusalem. Those who went took with them knowledge of Mesopotamian customs, ideas, and skills, but many chose to remain, having put down firm roots during the decades of exile (LeMiere 19). Mesopotamia itself became even more cosmopolitan than before, since not only did the Persian court at times visit and contribute to local administration, but also foreign levies and mercenaries did tours of military service there. Anti-Persian feeling in conquered lands led to scurrilous rumors, such as the tale that Xerxes destroyed the statue of Marduk-Bel in Babylon (LeMiere 20).

This story has proved to be a fabrication: the cult statue continued unscathed to embody the presence of the god in his undamaged temple in Babylon during subsequent centuries, and so Herodotos’ description of the golden statue of Marduk-Bel in the time of Artaxerxes I (464-424 BC) need not be doubted. Continuity of cult and architecture are thoroughly attested by the written sources for this and the subsequent period (Blackham 14). Babylon and Assyria provided the model from which the Achaemenids molded their kingship. Throne and footstool, crown and scepter, titles and epithets, military and ritual duties all conform to the style of their predecessors within Mesopotamia, and the winged disk, as an emblem of royalty associated with the national deity, they adopted as their own. In administration too they took over from the Babylonians and Assyrians road and courier systems, and the allocation of fields as a reward for military service (Blackham 13). Closely connected with kingship and the court rather than with religious institutions, Achaemenid art was created by collecting Babylonian, Assyrian, Ionian, and other elements and fusing them into a new but essentially eclectic form. One can seldom pick out elements that belonged to the Persians before they became a world power (Blackham 8).

When Cyrus built his new royal residence at Pasargadae, he decorated his palace with relief sculptures resembling those of Sennacherib at Nineveh, which he visited in person, despite the damage done to it in the siege of 612 BC (Charvat 22). His successors did likewise at Persepolis. Only the design of gardens, particularly at Pasargadae, seems to be distinctively Iranian. An Achaemenid style in glyptic art emerges gradually out of previous Babylonian and Elamite styles, in which even the introduction of the fire-altar (often seen as a hallmark of purely Persian practice) seems to be a motif taken up from much earlier iconography in the Zagros area (Wallenfels 120).

Architecture of Ancient Egypt

Social and organizational changes are generated in any society that introduces, and absorbs, technical advantages. Recently, the results from experiments with more than 200 replica and reconstructed tools indicate the development of interrelated technology, tools and materials in key areas during the Predynastic period (ca. 4500-3050 BC) of ancient Egypt (Smith 65). These experiments also suggest that later evolutionary changes to the designs of particular tools significantly increased the production rates of artifacts, giving impetus to the creation of increasing amounts of material wealth (Stocks 96). This book attempts to explain what these technical introductions, tools, materials and relationships were, and how the development of technology and craft working generated social and organizational changes to Predynastic and Dynastic Egyptian society.

In Predynastic Egypt, the ability to produce progressively complicated artifacts gradually grew from the designing and manufacturing skills of craft workers, assisted by an intelligent use of an abundance of naturally occurring materials acquired from the local environment (Peck 125). These included stone, wood, minerals, sand, and many kinds of vegetation. Predynastic technological developments can be divided into several distinct areas, each with its own specialized tools and techniques, but sometimes sharing other tools, methods and materials (Riggs 34).

In particular, the establishment of the tools and procedures for the large-scale manufacture of stone vessels during the Nagada II (ca. 3600-3200 BC) and the Nagada III/Dynasty 0 (ca. 3200-3050 BC) periods crucially contributed to the growth of other technologies in these periods, and in the following Dynastic era (Joseph 15). For example, the carving of the ceremonial schist palette of King Narmer (Dynasty 0), and Dynastic hard stone statuary, benefited from the skills and tools established for shaping earlier Predynastic hard stone vessels, stone hand-axes and maceheads. Also, it is possible that the Late Predynastic expansion in faience manufacture can be attributed to an increased availability of copper-contaminated quartz powders, a waste product obtained by drilling calcite (Egyptian alabaster), hard limestone and igneous stone vessels with copper tubes and sand abrasive (Langford 105).

Rare examples of Badarian (ca. 4500-3800 BC) black or dark gray basalt vases came from a disturbed cemetery and village rubbish but in the Nagada I period (ca. 4000-3600 BC) vessels made of hard and soft stones, such as basalt, granite, alcite, gypsum and limestone, were produced in increasing numbers. 2 the rapid expansion of hard stone vessel production in the Nagada II period indicates that new, faster and reliable vessel manufacturing methods were introduced during this time (Lefaiure 89).

What were these new production techniques, and why did they emerge and affect later industrial developments? In endeavoring to answer these questions, the manufacture of hard and soft stone vessels was used as a focal point in investigating Predynastic and Dynastic technical developments. Vessels of stone were the first substantial artifacts in this material, and therefore a stone vase was made with the reconstructed stone vessel manufacturing tools in order to test them (Peck 122). The special problems associated with the successful shaping and hollowing of hard and soft stone vessels were relevant to the development of other Egyptian tools, processes and artifacts. For example, the Dynastic sarcophagi made from single blocks of hard stone were drilled out with copper tubes, similar to the initial hollowing techniques in use for the hard stone Predynastic vessels (Lefaiure 101).

Several important areas of ancient technology remain shrouded in mystery, particularly those concerned with stone-working: our ability to assess the development of ancient Egyptian technology, despite finding many tools, artifacts and tomb illustrations of manufacturing processes, is frustrated by an incomplete knowledge of important crafts, and virtually no knowledge at all of significant tools missing from the archaeological record (Peck 95). In trying to understand the technical steps achieved by craft-workers from all periods of ancient Egypt, a study of the environmental factors, the natural resources, the artifacts and the existing tools in our possession, combined with a review of the archaeological and pictorial evidence, preceded the manufacture and use of the replica and reconstructed tools (Smith 75). All of the tools’ characteristics, and their effectiveness for working stone, wood, metal and other indigenous materials under manufacturing and test conditions, were evaluated and recorded. The examination of Predynastic production methods, materials and tools was assisted by additionally focusing on the Dynastic archaeological evidence, using it as a frame of reference for the experiments. Later, by looking forward to the Dynastic era from a newly established Predynastic perspective, the reasons for Dynastic manufacturing developments, and their effects, might more fully be understood.

Architecture of Ancient Rome

Italy as a part of a primitive western Europe had no legacy from a splendid Bronze Age like the Minoan and Mycenaean period in Greece and had none of that wonderful richness and creative strength which characterized Homeric and geometric Greece even when compared with the Oriental empires in their late Babylonian, Assyrian, and Saitic renaissance (Sear 48). There has long been a tendency among modern writers either to regard Italic and Roman architecture as an outgrowth of prehistoric and archaic Etruscan developments or to date it to the Sullan Age or later and to connect it with the Hellenistic architecture of that period (Roberts 115).

The most important centuries in the history of the Roman Republic have been left out of the discussion. Today there is a heartening reaction against this. In the field of architecture this corresponds to what Gaetano de Sanctis in a masterly manner has said about the Hellenistic cultural influence in Rome and its most significant transformation by the Romans in the third and following centuries B.C. (Boethius 59) a new kind of Hellenism was created in Rome under the influence of local traditions and the demands of the historical development of the Roman state. The great fortifications of central Italy — as described by Marion Blake and Giuseppe Lugli in their monumental works on Roman construction –are now dated to the centuries after about 400 B.C.(Scherer, 145) Here at least we have an important part of Italic architecture quite clearly belonging to the great centuries of the growth of Republican Rome and being part of its creative work after the Etruscan, Archaic period.

The urbs nova heralded by Tacitus –the utilitarian brick-faced concrete architecture of second century Imperial Rome — created a new starting point for the urbanistic development of the Western world. Older elements (which we see in Pompeii and Herculaneum in the forms they assumed before 79 a.D.) had real importance for the future only in their second-century form and systematization (Mueller 1). It may seem premature to discuss the Domus Aurea of Nero, for much fundamental work remains to be done on it (Taylor 79). First of all, a complete description of the remains of the main palace of the great villa below the terrace of the Thermae of Trajan must be prepared (Taylor 77). Another essential requirement is a survey and map of the wide grounds surrounding the main palace — as outlined by C.C. Van Essen in his most valuable article “La Topographie de la Domus Aurea Neronis.”(Davey 202) it will also be necessary to analyze the ruins in front (that is, to the south) of the great apse of the terrace of the Thermae of Trajan (in the Orto di Dorotea Rotolanti)(Waltkin 220). The slightly different orientation and the general impression of these remains seem to me to indicate a post-Neronian origin; however, this question will have to be carefully examined (Taylor 85). The apsidal construction, known from old excavations on the eastern side of the court in front of the palace, must also be studied. In spite of such deficiencies in our knowledge, some suggestions will be offered here about the place of the Domus Aurea in the history of Roman architecture, and I shall discuss, in general, its role in Roman life and Roman history (Robertson 135).

There is ample literary evidence to show that, in ancient times, many farmhouses stood in the countryside surrounding the cities of Italy. At the same time peasants also lived, as today, in hill towns and went out to their fields at dawn. In the fields the peasants had huts which were available for short sojourns in harvest times or for the shepherds (Scherer 96)). There were, moreover, the greater farms and manor houses, the so-called Roman villas whose agricultural function was beautifully described by Cato, Varro, and Vitruvius (Boethiues 116).

The descriptions of the farm of Manius Curius Dentatus give us a reliable glimpse of the simple life in the villas of the early third century B.C (Watkin 222). In De legibus Cicero contrasted the luxury of the rebuilt house of his father with the homestead of his grandfather which — according to the old custom — was like that of Curius in the Sabine country. A small “farmer” like Horace makes us feel the deep-rooted tradition in this country life derived from the priscae virtutes and mores of legendary ploughmen, like Cincinnatus, “ab aratro aut foco exeuntes.”(Mueller 2)

Although it is evident that the palaces of the Hellenistic world were the source of inspiration, a comparison between the House of the Faun in a provincial town like Pompeii and the royal palaces excavated on the acropolis of Pergamon, for example, suggests that the Romans surpassed their models-as Pompey decided to do when he built his theater (Sear 82). When Horace speaks of the Regia Attali as a culmination of wealth, he no doubt has in mind the whole acropolis with piazzas, porticoes, library, temples, and monuments (Sear 85). The Romans imitated and elaborated, but at the same time, as I have explained above, they remodeled in accordance with their own traditions or simply Hellenized their old types of houses. The predilection for symmetrical disposition for axiality, and for the tripartite inner side of the atria remained, when atria were provided with Greek columns, paintings, and peristyles, and distinguished the Italic palaces from their Greek models (Sear 90).

Peristyles, reshaped by Italic symmetry and axiality ) — as in the Villa dei Misteri outside Pompeii, for example, or the late Republican villa in Tibur that Hadrian rebuilt –were in great favor in these luxurious villas (Robertson, 169). Pierre Grimal and lately Karl Schefold have brought this out very well. The large atrium and peristyle houses in the Republican strata of Ostia help to understand that by about 100 B.C. villas and domus in Rome were already the leading centers for the new luxuries (Robertson, 154). So far as we can see, the private houses in Ostia and the villas stand out in striking contrast to the late Republican temples of tufa and travertine and all the old-fashioned discipline of the state, as Pliny, too, observed in a noteworthy phrase: “Tacuere tantas moles [great columns of costly marble] in privatam domum trahi praeter fictilia deorum fastigia”(Sear 95)

The legacy which everyone recognizes is generally studied in the splendid classicist monumental architecture of the first two centuries of the Empire (Taylor 65). As social facts and as solutions to the recurrent demands of town life, its various architectural types will reappear in our discussion, but it is unnecessary for our present argument to describe its well-known external features (Mueller 265). In their Roman form, however, and as expressions of Roman civilization and social ideals, these features gradually disappeared as the pagan empire became “a society with no prestige values, whether inheritance, gifts, or occupation” (to use Berenson’s words about modern times), and thus was unable to renew or protect its architectural system. As early as 551-52 a.D. cattle passed through the Imperial fora and in 536-37 the temple of Janus in the Argiletum street was a neglected antiquity ( Davey 110). It would indeed be of great value if the time when the various features of the great Roman urban system ceased to be used could be fixed not only for temples and fora but also for thermae, horrea, theaters, and circuses (Taylor 103). It would be valuable too if it were shown how the pagan system of material welfare had to yield to the Christian urbanism of the fourth and fifth centuries a.D., with its new sacred civic centers, and how both pagan and Christian institutions were affected by the downfall of the Western Roman Empire (Scherer 116).

In connection with the unbroken legacy from the late Roman Empire to medieval life, we should also mention the predilection for peristyles and porticoes, and we should remember that peristyles were not always parts of palaces (Robertson 147). It is more important, no doubt, for their development in medieval times that they were at least as typically part of utilitarian architecture: of warehouses, of barracks like the Caserma dei Vigili in Ostia, of marketplaces like the Piccolo Mercato, the Horrea di Hortensius in Ostia, and Eumachia’s building in the Forum at Pompeii, and of Hellenistic hotels like the caravansary of Kassope in Epeiros with its court measuring 14.2 by 11.7 meters, flanked by porticoes (Robertson 152). Like the Byzantine and Oriental caravansaries, the western medieval peristyles continued to be integral parts of the architecture of the time because they were useful fragments of the old urban system in spite of the decay of its original spirit. They lived on in spite of the impoverishing catastrophes of the sixth century, in spite of the Norman invasion and the Saracens, and in spite of Byzantine and other influences that obscured the original pattern. This classical heritage which persisted in medieval monumental architecture must be contrasted with the well-known Renaissance revivals already mentioned (Mueller 2).

From this more or less monumental architecture, which continued in use mainly because of the influence of the Church, let us turn to the third type of tradition from Imperial Rome: the entirely utilitarian architecture like the Roman tenement houses of the second century a.D. — the insulae with their rows of shops (tabernae) along the streets. At this point we may inquire whether there also survived into medieval times a humble and persistent, though gradually degenerating, tradition from this remarkable creation of town life in the Imperial Age.

Architecture of Ancient Greece

The district round Mycenae was formerly regarded as the centre of a prehistoric civilization called, for convenience, Mycenaean; but the later discoveries in Crete proved that Mycenaean art was only a local development of a much older one, extending over Crete and the whole of the area about the Aegean Sea. The broader title of Aegean may, therefore, be regarded as more suitable for the entire epoch (Dinsmoor 69).

The Aegean civilization, however, concerns itself with two distinct races at least, the islanders and the mainlanders (Dinsmoor 75). The islanders were non-Greek, of neolithic “Mediterranean” stock of southern origin, on which was superposed an Asiatic or Anatolian copper-using culture (Dinsmoor 76). The original mainlanders, on the other hand, were gradually overrun by newcomers, Greeks, a branch of those “Aryan” peoples who were migrating westward through central Europe, sending offshoots at intervals toward the south (Cotterhill 105).

The stronghold of the islanders was Crete, while the mainlanders occupied continental Greece and Troy (Cotterhill 106). Certain ethnological changes, and the contemporary changes of style, permit a subdivision into periods which correspond, from the standpoint of evolution, to those into which we shall subdivide historical Greek architecture (Vlachos 49). These periods may be summarized here, though the brevity with which we must consider Aegean architecture will not permit us to discuss the stylistic variations of each phase (Vlachos 52).

Ancient Greek architects strove for the precision and excellence of workmanship that are the hallmarks of Greek art in general (Vlachos 55). The formulas they invented as early as the sixth century B.C. have influenced the architecture of the past two millennial (Vlachos 59). The two principal orders in Archaic and Classical Greek architecture are the Doric and the Ionic (Vlachos 65). In the first, the Doric order, the columns are fluted and have no base (Vlachos 70). The capitals are composed of two parts consisting of a flat slab, the abacus, and a cushion-like slab known as the echinus (Vlachos 75). On the capital rests the nomenclature, which is made up of three parts: the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice (Vlachos 76). The architrave is typically undecorated except for a narrow band to which are attached pegs, known as guttae. On the frieze are alternating series of triglyphs (three bars) and metopes, stone slabs frequently decorated with relief sculpture (Robichard 39).

The pediment, the triangular space enclosed by the gables at either end of the building, was often adorned with sculpture, early on in relief and later in the round (Robichaud 42). Among the best-preserved examples of Archaic Doric architecture are the temple of Apollo at Corinth, built in the second quarter of the sixth century B.C., and the temple of Aphaia at Aegina, built around 500 — 480 B.C. (Rapple, 255) to the latter belong at least three different groups of pedimental sculpture exemplary of stylistic development between the end of the sixth century and beginning of the fifth century B.C. In Attica (Rapple 259).

The architectural order governed not only the column, but also the relationships among all the components of architecture (the Columbia Encyclopedia 1552). As a result, every piece of a Greek building is integral to its overall structure; a fragment of molding often can be used to reconstruct an entire building (Vlachos 85). Although the ancient Greeks erected buildings of many types, the Greek temple best exemplifies the aims and methods of Greek architecture (Vlachos 91). The temple typically incorporated an oblong plan, and one or more rows of columns surrounding all four sides. The vertical structure of the temple conformed to an order, a fixed arrangement of forms unified by principles of symmetry and harmony (Vlachos 95).

There was usually a pronaos (front porch) and an opisthodomos (back porch). The upper elements of the temple were usually made of mudbrick and timber, and the platform of the building was of cut masonry (the Columbia Encyclopedia 1565). Columns were carved of local stone, usually limestone or tufa; in much earlier temples, columns would have been made of wood (Rapple 265). Marble was used in many temples, such as the Parthenon in Athens, which is decorated with Pentelic marble and marble from the Cycladic island of Paros (Cotterhill 107). The interior of the Greek temple characteristically consisted of a cella, the inner shrine in which stood the cult statue, and sometimes one or two antechambers, in which were stored the treasury with votive offerings (Dinsmoor 105).

The knowledge of Hellenic art and architecture rests chiefly on a study of the actual remains, supplemented by such information as has been gleaned from Greek and Roman writings on the subject.

The remains themselves consist of the following: (1) Objects of stone (marble, limestone, etc.), such as buildings, sculptures in the round or in relief, and sepulchral monuments. (2) Objects made of durable metals (like bronze), such as statues and vessels. These, however, being easily convertible and having commercial value, have rarely survived, and then only by the merest chance. (3) Objects made of baked clay. These are practically indestructible and have survived in the largest number; hence, of the minor arts of Hellas, none is so well represented today as the work of potter and vase-painter. (4) Gems and other works of the jeweler and goldsmith, including engraved coins (Dinsmoor 110). The products of the painter have all but entirely perished, as was inevitable; and of the minor arts the greatest loss we have suffered is the complete disappearance of Hellenic textiles (Vlachos 94).

Every one of these relics of the Hellenic past bears unmistakably the imprint of the genius of Hellas; furthermore the same geographical and social factors, whose influence we have found of paramount importance in other fields, have also deeply affected the development of Hellenic art and architecture (Vlachos 95). Geographical and climatic conditions are by no means negligible quantities in the evolution of art (Vlachos 98). It is no accident that Greece, with its pitiless sunlight and boldly outlined mountain scenery, was the home of sculpture (Vlachos 102).


It is apparent from this discussion that the four periods discussed are the four cornerstones of modern architectural principles. From the earliest days in ancient Sumaria and Babylonia man has attempted to harness the tools and materials from his environment to express himself and his surroundings through constructing monuments, temples and churches. The principles and rudimentary tools used in constructing these structures served to form the foundations of the architecture principles which have fostered the development of Western Architecture over hundreds of years.

The development of the architectural principles that modern architects employ can be traced from the desserts of Babylonia from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to the pyramids of ancient Egypt. The use of angles, sharp edges and the introduction of the archway to support load bearing structures have their roots in antiquity. Without these principles and their evidenced usage in ancient periods, Western Architecture would face a void- a vacuum of creativity, that would have greatly diminished the architectural advancements and achievements that architects in Western society have accomplished thus far.

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Vlachos, N. Hellas and Hellenison: A social and cultural history of Ancient Greece. New York: Ginn & Co, 2006. Print.

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