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Lecture 1 Introduction to Ancient Architecture

• • • • Mesopotamia Egypt Mohenjo Daro and Harappa Maya Aztec and Inca

Middle East 3500 bc

First true civilisation (Sumerians) in history of mankind. Second civilisation emerging, Egypt

2,500 B,C.

Egypt 2nd civilisation built the great pyramiids

Mesopotamian civilization has spread far and wide, carried by the trade networks radiating outwards from the Sumerian cities. Towns and cities are now scattered over a large part of the Middle East, and well beyond

These centralized states are home to highly sophisticated and already ancient civilizations, with a complex commercial life, bureaucracies, and wellorganized armies based on a new technology, the chariot

1,500 B.C.

Tribes from the fringes of the old civilizations have come in to create new states and empires: the Hittite, Mitanni and Babylonian empires are ruled by Indo-European speakers from the north and east.

to come to the fore. the Hittites. The eclipse of these states has allowed new peoples. Assyria and Babylon have all been devastated by invaders from outside their borders.Over the past couple of centuries the old powers of the ancient Middle East Egypt. particularly the Phoenicians and Israelites. Iron has come into widespread use. 1.C. alphabet has been developed.000 B. .

C. .500 B.

C.200 B. .

A. 1 .D.

D. 200 .A.

A. 500 .D.

They were skilled in metal craft and also invented the cuneiform system of writing. the southern region of ancient Mesopotamia made the transition from prehistory with the rise of the Sumerian civilization. The Sumerians established an irrigation system that enabled them to produced food necessary to sustain an urban culture. Temples were the principal building type and these were raised on brick platforms called ziggurats. The major cities of the Sumerian civilization included Kish.Sumerian Architecture • In around 4500 BC. The Sumerians were also the first culture to make a conscious attempt at the design of public buildings. . Uruk (Warka) and Ur.

meaning "wedge-shaped". called cuneiform. the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract. Over time.Sumerian is the first known written language. cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. Its script. The Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. . Created by the Sumerians in the late 4th millennium BC.

• The arch and column were developed by the ancient Mesopotamians. especially in the south. Over the centuries.Building Styles and Construction Techniques • The climate and readily available natural resources determined building styles and construction techniques in ancient Mesopotamia. These factors not only influenced the appearance of buildings and how they were decorated but also their survival in our archaeological records. They were masters of construction using bricks made of mud. but impermanent building material. torrential rains and shifting sands destroyed much of southern Mesopotamia's mud-brick architectural heritage. Only crumbled mounds remain as evidence of the great cities that once stood in the deserts of southern Iraq . Brick making was a major Mesopotamian industry. and they were also familiar with the use of domes. that are abundant. where wood was in short supply and stone was non-existent.

the Sumerians plastered and whitewashed the walls of their buildings and colour them with different patterns. spaces were narrow and oblong and were covered with vaults.Building Materials • Mud was the principal building material of the Sumerians. • To disguise the lack of attraction of mud and also protect it from the weather. sun dried and built into massive walls using earth mortar. • Alternating buttresses and recesses were also used to relieve the monotony of their plastered facades. Gate ways were flanked by high towers. Because mud could not be used for lintel. Mud was formed into brick. • Walls were thick to compensate for the structural weakness of mud and were reinforced with buttresses. . The building method used was appropriate to the material of construction.

Materials used for buildings Other materials • Earth plaster was used to seal and finish exterior and interior spaces of common residences • Lime plaster was used to seal and finish exterior and interior spaces of wealthy residences. diorite from Arabia. and temples • A type of terrazzo were used as flooring • The date palms were used for ceiling lintels • The giant reeds were used for roofing and rammed earth foundations • Terracotta panels were used for decoration • Bitumen used to seal plumbing • Especially prized were imported building materials such as cedar from Lebanon. and lapis lazuli from India . places.

Plan of ancient Babylon in Mesopotamia .

reconstructed by Saddam Hussein .• City of Babylon in Mesopotamia (Ancient Iraq).

• Babylon was surrounded by thick masonry walls ornamented with images of the ancient God of Marduk .

• Full scale reproduction of the Ishtar gateway. an important portal into Babylon .

a wide walled roadway through the ancient city of Babylon .• Procession street.

• The ancient coliseum of Babylon (rebuild by Saddam Hussein’s labor force) .


Detailed tilework on the front of the Abbassid Castle in Baghdad .

Ruins of King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace .

Elaborate tilework at the 16th centure Al Kadhimain Mosque in Baghdad .

Maksh Rustam. Iran . 5th century bc.Achaemenid tombs.

Oval Temple at Khafaje • The oval temple at khafaje (2600 BC) is an example of the second Sumerian temple type. Emphasis in planning is on enclosing spaces within courtyards to create islands of peace from a busy city. the emphasis in its organization is different. Within the courtyard are found wells and basins for ablution. as well as workshops. The inner courtyard had offering tables and showed evidence of animal sacrifices. and storage rooms arranged on four sides. The temple is raised on a simple platform and was enclosed in an oval shaped inner courtyard. the City temple. An outer enclosure wall was extended to protect a priestly residence with its own chapel. • The temple at Khafaje is named oval because of the massive oval walls surrounding it. • City temples are usually dedicated to lower gods and they are built closer to the living space of the city. . Being located within the city. bakeries.

and flat rooftops provided extra living space. The remains of the temple and its surrounding community were excavated by the Iraq Expedition of the Oriental Institute between 1930 and 1934.• An artist's reconstruction of the Temple Oval at Khafajah. The temple is surrounded by sturdily built mud-brick homes which were packed closely together along the narrow.C. as it may have looked around 2700 B. winding city streets. The thick walls of the houses provided good insulation against the elements. Iraq. .

likewise there was no view of the street from the courtyard. The external walls were featureless with only a single opening connecting the house to the street. which has been used in Mesopotamia to the present day. all the rooms opened into it. • From the street only the rear wall of the antechamber would be visible through an open door. • This house faced inward toward an open courtyard which provided a cooling effect by creating convection currents. The typical size for a Sumerian house was 90 m2 .Residential Architecture • The courtyard house was the predominant typology. Movement between the house and street required a 90° turn through a small antechamber. • The Sumerians had a strict division of public and private spaces. • This courtyard called tarbaṣu (Akkadian) was the primary organizing feature of the house.

• • Settlement detail. . Streets were fronted by courtyard house of one story high. The houses were densely packed with narrow streets between them. The streets were usually punctuated by narrow openings that serve as entrances to the courtyard houses. Ur The fabric of the city is made up of residences mixed with commercial and industrial buildings interspaced within them.

Temples • Temples were the principal architectural monuments of Sumerian cities. and a city temple. . the Oval temple at Khafaje. The temples consisted of city and chief temples. • Examples of great temples during this time include the White temple at Uruk (Warka) and Great Ziggurate at ur.Architectural Monuments . The temples were believed to be portals through which god might pass on his visit to earth.

also from the Ubaid period. Temple C from the Eanna district of Uruk is a case-study of classical temple form. walls. This configuration was called the bent axis approach. There was an explosion of diversity in temple design during the following Early Dynastic Period. An offering table was located in the center of the temple at the intersection of the axes. Tshaped. basins.Temple Architecture • The doors of the long axis were the entry point for the gods. and barracks. and the doors of the short axis the entry point for men. The entry was along the short axis and the shrine was at the end of the long axis. The temples still retained features such as cardinal orientation. The T-shaped plan. • • . Temples of the Uruk Period divided the temple rectangle into tripartite. rectangular plans. was identical to the tripartite plan except for a hall at one end of the rectangle perpendicular to the main hall. The bent axis approach is an innovation from the Ubaid temples which had a linear axis approach. it was designed around a series of courtyards leading to a cella. and is also a feature of Sumerian houses. as anyone entering would make a ninety degree turn to face the cult statue at the end of the central hall. or combined plans The tripartite plan inherited from the Ubaid had a large central hall with two smaller flanking halls on either side. and buttresses. Now however they took on a variety new configurations including courtyards. The Sin Temple in Khafajah is typical of a this era.

. a secondary court attached to it called the court of Nannar. • The great ziggurat at Ur was built during the period 2113-2048 BC by the ruler Urnammu on the ruins of previous temples and incorporating remains of earlier structures.Great Ziggurat at Ur • Ur was a Sumerian city located near the mouth of the Euphrates River. The city was thriving by around 2600 BC when it was also considered sacred to Nnanna the moon god in Sumerian mythology. The complex comprised of the ziggurat and its court. • The temple was constructed of mud bricks reinforced with thin layers of matting and cables of twisted reeds. • The Ziggurat was located in a temple complex. The temple is dedicated to the moon god Nnanna.

perhaps covered by a dome. . where one passed through a portal. Nothing in reality remains of the top and what is shown in the reconstruction is hypothetical. • The Ziggurat temple was essentially a place for the worship of god. ziggurat as mountains united the heavens and the earth. A fourth stairway gave access to the second and third stages.• The king is also the chief priest of the temple and he has his residence close to the temple. So Gods would come down to earth to the temple located on the ziggurat and pass instructions to the chief priest. • A triple stairway with heavy bastions leads to the summit of the first stage. In Sumerian mythology.

• The ziggurat temple is also held to be the location of a holy wedding between god and a woman of his choice. the temple evolved as a place of last resort. People also climbed the mountains to achieve a holy experience and get closer to god. where people could flee to when their city is under attack. . Because war was also common in the region. The mountain offered them a high position where they are protected and can defend themselves from attack by their enemies.

• Classical ziggurats emerged in the Neo-Sumerian Period with articulated buttresses. The Ziggurat of Ur is the best example of this style. Another change in temple design in this period was straight as opposed to bent-axis approach to the temple . vitreous brick sheathing. and entasis in the elevation.

The Ziggurat of Marduk. Babylon .

2125 bc .Ziggurat of Ur. Iraq.

• A series of sophisticated stepped levels and staircases lead to the entrance of the temple. Uruk • Uruk was a major Sumerian city by 3300 BC. • The temple has imposing doorways located at its either end. • The White temple located at Uruk was built around 3000 BC. but worshippers to the temple enter through a side room.000. On the long side of the temple were rooms oblong in shape and vaulted. Externally it was white plastered making it visible for miles in the landscape. . • The temple is placed on a great mound of earth called the ziggurat rising more than 12meters above the ground. and the four corners of the ziggurat were also oriented towards the cardinal points. • The temple is rectangular in shape and made up of mud brick. covering an area of about 2 square kilometers with a population of about 40.White Temple. It is an example of the earliest development of the Sumerian temple and ziggurat. The temple walls were thick with buttresses. The sloped walls of the ziggurat had diagonal flutings. • An Altar and offering table was located at the middle of the building in the sanctuary. creating wall niches and reveal. The modern name of Iraq is derived from the name Uruk.

The White Temple of Anu in Uruk is typical of a high temple which was built very high on a platform of adobe-brick. Functionally. it served as a storage and distribution center as well as housing the priesthood. a series of platforms creating a stepped pyramid.• The high temple was a special type of temple that was home to the patron god of the city. In the Early Dynastic period high temples began to include a ziggurat. .

western Iraq is an example • Started as fortified villages of about 200 people than growing into communities .Housing • One of the most important groupings of villages dates from 6000to 2500 BCE • Located to the east of rain-fed agricultural zone that arches northeastward from the northern tip of the Persian Gulf along the flanks of the Zagros Mountains • Tell Hassuna.

5 by 2 m. .Construction of Houses • Basic building material was mud and timber • Mud is mixed with reeds and applied in horizontal courses to form walls of various heights • Walls were laid in honeycomb pattern to add durability • Means houses were composed of rectilinear rooms measuring on average 1.

• Horizontal roofs consisted of adjoining beams of oak on which were placed a layer of branches and reeds which were sealed with mud. bitumen and gypsum • Interior surfaces were decorated with gypsum plaster .

Iraq .Housing Pattern at Tell es-Sawwan.

The Sumerian Great Legacies • • • • • • • • • • • Writing Literatures Religion Civil Rules The Math system Time scale Agricultural system City plans The Wheel & Bronze Role of peace Administrative structure .

Catal Huyuk • City consisted of rectangular flat roofed houses packed together into a single architectural mass with no streets or passageways • Inhabitants moved across roof tops and descended into their homes through the roof via ladders • Walls were made of bricks reinforced by massive oak posts • Light came from small windows high in the walls .

Housin Pattern at Catal Huyuk .


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