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:

hei'. 5he Jate Spiro Kostofs A


hu'.'!-^ J Architecture appeared
t

in 19tJ5, it was universally

hailed as a masterpiece one of

the finest books on architecture ever written.


The New York Times Book Review, in a front

cover review, called it "a magnificent guided


tour through mankind's architecture," and
The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that
"Kostof. ..has enthralled a generation of stu-
dents Now he has done the same thing for
the public at large, in an extraordinary book
that is a new kind of architectural history."

This magisterial work has now been revised


and expanded by Greg Castillo, Kostofs col-
league and literary executor. Insightful,

engagingly written, and graced with almost a


thousand illustrations, the Second Edition of
this classic volume offers a sweeping narra-
tive that examines architecture as it reflects

the social, economic, and technological sys-


tems of human history. The scope of the book

is astonishing. No mere survey of famous


buildings, Kostofs History examines an inclu-

sive spectrum of manmade structures: prehis-

toric huts and the TVA, the pyramids at Giza


and the Rome railway station, the ziggurat
and the department store. Indeed, Kostof con-
,

sidered every building worthy of attention,


every structure or shelter a potential source of
insight, whether it be the prehistoric hunting
camps at Terra Amata, or the caves at Las-
caux with their magnificent paintings, or a
twenty-story hotel on the Las Vegas strip. The
Second Edition features a new concluding
chapter, "Designing the Fin-de-Siecle,"
based on Kostofs last lecture notes and pre-
pared by Castillo, as well as an all-new
sixteen-page color section. Many of the origi-

nal line drawings by Richard Tobias, as well

as some fifty photographs, have also been


updated or replaced, for improved clarity.

Visually and intellectually stimulating, this


book is at once a compelling history and an
indispensable reference on all aspects of our
built environment.

S60.00
(>ho

n
jf
'
A HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE
I
A HISTORY
OF ARCHITECTURE
Settings and Rituals

SPIRO KOSTOF

Revisions by Greg Castillo

Original Drawings by Richard Tobias

New York Oxford "^ OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS W 1995

d
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

In May 1991, Spiro Kostof delivered his nosed with cancer. He died six months this publication, again contributed his
last "A Historical Survey of
lectures for later at his home in Berkeley. As his re- skillsand patience. also owe a debt of
I

Architecture and Urbanism"


the long- search assistant of five years' standing, I gratitude to Nezar Al Sayyad, Travis
running course at the University of Cali- was asked to prepare the manuscript of Amos, Ken Caldwell, Sam Davis, Diane
fornia at Berkeley that some twenty years The City Assembled for publication. Soon Favro, Alan Gottlieb, Alan Hess, Carol
earlier had provided a springboard for the afterward, decided to take on, as well.
I Hershelle Krinsky, Emily Lane of Thames
first edition of this book. The final lec- Professor Kostof's planned revision of A and Hudson, Nina Libeskind, George
tures, covering the state of affairs from History of Architecture. In both cases, I Loisos, Christopher Mead, Jean-Pierre
after World War tl to the present, had have attempted to chart a conservative Protzen, Maryly Snow and Claire Dannen-
been thoroughly revised a year earlier, course, limited wherever possible to re- baum of Berkeley's Environmental Design
and Professor Kostof felt that they were a constructing his arguments and the spir- Slide Library, Stephen Tobriner, Susan
great improvement. His enduring goal had ited style with which he addressed them. Ubbiiohde, Dell Upton, and Fikret Yegul
been to construct an architectural history Professor Kostof's working methods for their help in assembling photographs
that avoided "strict distinctions between greatly simplifiedmy task. His habit was for this second edition. Kathryn Wayne
architecture and building, between archi- to prepare complete scripts for his lec- and Elizabeth Byrne of the Environmental
tecture and urbanism, between high cul- tures, which he then would commit to Design Library at Berkeley were, as al-
tures and low." The closing chapter of the memory. These typescripts established the ways, generous with their assistance. And
first edition of A History of Architecture, narrative framework and basic text for the Joyce Berry of Oxford University Press,
written in the early 1980s, fell short of finalchapters of this edition. Another use- now a veteran of three Kostof publica-
that resolution, having shrunk in scope to fulresource was the collection of lecture tions, again proved her considerable edi-
a review of "the works of the masters," videotapes now archived at Berkeley's torial and diplomatic talents.
just the kind of history he had set out Bancroft Library. Kostof's lectures were Every effort of this sort deserves a dedi-
to challenge. recorded in 1 990 and 1 991 ostensibly for , cation. In keeping with my role as the
In the years following the publication of the benefit of students who had missed facilitator rather than the author of this
this book's first edition. Professor Kostof class, but just as much to give him the volume, will defer on that count to Pro-
I

undertook projects that confronted archi- opportunity to review and fine-tune his fessor whose meditations were
Kostof,
tecture's current events head-on. These performance. More than one digression captured on videotape in May 1 991 in one
included America by Design, a 1987 PBS from his script, as documented on tape, of his final public lectures.
series and a companion publication of the has found its way into this edition. None-
Last week was the last lecture of the great
same name, The City Shaped
as well as theless, the text of a lecture, however pol-
Vincent Scully: a terrific mind, a terrific imagi-
and The City Assembled, a two-volume ished, is not that of a textbook. Whenever nation. His course closed after being taught
study of urban form and its social mean- glossed in class demanded
a site or a topic since the early 1940s. He retired unwillingly.
ings. Both efforts sent him traveling to more detailed description, have added it,
I He wanted to go on and on until he dies, as
sites that embodied the exceptional as following the vector and tenor of Kostof's most of us do. For whatever it's worth, dedi- I

well as the ordinary in late-twentieth- argument to the best of my abilities. cate these final lectures to him, my one-time

century environmental design. The surer teacher, longtime adversary, and a man who
did more for architectural history than most of
footing gained from this research was evi- For their help in refining the finished text,
us put together.
dent in the updated lectures for Berkeley's I must thank Karl Weimer, as well as Gary
survey course, and a revised edition of Brown, Marta Gutman, Kathleen James,
A History of Architecture incorporating Roger Montgomery, and Steven Tobriner, Berkeley G.C.
these changes was put on the calendar as all at Berkeley's College of Environmental October 1994
his next assignment. Design. Richard Tobias, Professor Kostof's
In June 1991, Spiro Kostof was diag- original collaborator on illustrations for
CONTENTS

PART ONE 7. POLIS AND AKROPOLIS, 137

A Place on Earth Athens and Her Empire, 137


The Shape of the Polis, 138

Athens "The Eye of Greece," 146
1. THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT, 3
The History of Architecture, 3 8. THE HELLENISTIC REALM, 161
The Total Context of Architecture, 7
The New Order, 161
The Hellenistic Temple, 168
2. THE CAVE AND THE SKY: STONE AGE EUROPE, 21
Religious Settings, 170
The Beginning, 21 The Noble Metropolis, 174
Old Stone Age Architecture, 23
The Cave at Lascaux, 23 9. ROME: CAPUT MUNDI, 191
New Stone Age Architecture, 26 EarlyRoman Architecture, 191
The Tennples of Malta, 32 Components of a Roman Town: Pompeii, 194
Stonehenge, 37 The Look of Empire: Rome at the Millennium, 207

3. THE RISE OF THE CITY: 10. THEWORLD AT LARGE:


ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA, 43 ROMAN CONCURRENCES, 217
The Urban Revolution, 43 The Roman Cosmos, 217
Stirrings of Urban Consciousness, 44
Beyond the Empire, 219
The Cities of Mesopotamia, 50 The Other Ancient World, 225
A Continent Alone, 233
4. THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT, 67
The Land of Egypt, 67
The Burial of Kings, 71
The Time of the Gods, 79 TWO
PART
Survival of the Egyptian Temple, 88
Measuring Up
5. BRONZE AGE CITIES:
THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR, 91 11. THE TRIUMPH OF CHRIST, 245
Asia Minor, 91 The Turning Point: Third-Century Rome, 245
Mycenaeans and Minoans, 99 Housing the Kingdom of Heaven, 253
The Closing of the Bronze Age, 112 The Primacy of Constantinople, 260

6. THE GREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" 12. THE MEDITERRANEAN


ALTERNATIVES, 115 IN THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES, 269

The Passing of the Bronze Age, 115 The Decline of the West, 269
The Emergence of Greece, 117 Carolingian Restoration, 274
The Greek Temple, 120 The Empire of Muhammed, 284
Thomas Cole, The Architect's Dream, 1840; detail.
THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT

The History of Architecture


A history of architecture and is both less draw from this vast and varied wealth, as stand what they are, how they came to be,
more than a grand tour. It does not have nineteenth-century architects did, to give and why they are the way they are.
the immediacy of walking through the shape to contemporary buildings of his
streets and public places of towns as diverse own. The Pictorial Evidence
as Isfahan and London, or stepping into Like him, the reader of an architectural Buildings are often born of images and live
covered spaces that range in mood from the history is alone among the built riches of on in images. Before there is a foundation
dappled, swarming tunnels of Muslim suqs the past, put in order, illustrated, and ac- trench or a single course of stone, a build-
to the single-minded sublimity of the Pan- counted for. He
or she can learn the names ing has to be conceptualized and its form
theon Rome. (Figs.
in 1.1, 1.2) That is how of buildings and their makers, and when may be represented in models and draw-

architecture is meant to be known. As the and how they were made, and other ready ings. Models of the building in small scale,
material theater of human activity, its truth information that is not always at our dis- in clay or wood or plaster, give a full

is in its use. posal when we travel. A visit to Rome or impression in three dimensions of the final

Although a book such as this cannot stand Istanbul is boundbe confusing. There is
to product that is being projected. Pictorial
in for "the foot that walks, the head that so very much and it seems to lie
to see, views might present the future building's
turns, the eye that sees," as Le Corbusier about unsorted, helter skelter. A group of ideal appearance: on commemorative
once described the experience of architec- temples from the time before Christ is medals, for example, struck at the time of
ture, it has its own deliberate advantage. For ringed by recent apartment houses; brick- the laying of the cornerstone, or on pre-
one thing, the book is a compact world. It and-concrete clumps refuse to yield their sentation drawings elaborately rendered in
lets one minutes from Mesopota-
shift in identity. The historian brings time under perspective. And there are other, more ab-
mia to Peru. Then, it is panoramic. The control; isolates random scraps and ar- stract drawings. Plans show in two-dimen-
reader who leafs through it is not unlike the ranges them into a trenchant sequence; sets sional pattern the horizontal disposition of
lone figure in this nineteenth-century up relationships among farflung structures, solid parts, like walls and columns, and the
painting by Thomas Cole entitled The Ar- through the hindsight of this day and the voids of enframed or enclosed space. Sec-
chitect's Dream. (Fig. 1.3) The figure re- collective knowledge of the discipline. What tions slice through the building vertically at
clines luxuriously on top of a column of is a ziggurat and how was it used? What sort some imagined plane to indicate the se-
classical inspiration; before him, past tra- of people built it? How does it compare with quence of rooms in length and the super-
ditions of buildings are composed grandly, an Old Kingdom pyramid or the stepped imposition of floors and roofs in height;
like a hybrid movie set. Time is the river that platform of a Meso-American temple? they also indicate openings, whether they
flows toward him, and on its banks are lined The historian does this, first, by insisting are physically accessible or not, and so help
the familiar forms of his professional vi- on the recapture of the true physical reality to explain structure. Elevations, using a
and plant
sion: the pyramids, battered walls, of things built, whether they have since vertical plane, flatten out one face of the
columns of Egypt; Creek temples and Ro- been altered, damaged, or destroyed to- building to indicate schematically the or-
man aqueducts; and closer still, outlined tally. This primary task, akin to ar-
is a der of its parts.
against the glow, the pinnacles and lance- chaeology, and makes use of material that To the initiate, a ground plan of the
like towers of medieval Christendom. He is is both visual and literary in nature. And church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul tells at
an architect, and what he looks upon is the then the historian must go beyond this es- a glance that strings of columns alternate
idealized heritage of his craft. He could tablished reality of the buildings to under- with heavy piers to describe a large square
A PLACE ON EARTH

Fig. 1.1 Aleppo (Syria), suq, or covered market;


interior.

bay and smaller semicircular spaces be-


yond the central core of the building. A
longitudinal section through this core makes
clear that the columns are disposed in two
tiers and that, further up, a system of curved
roofs over the smaller spaces builds up to
the full dome that covers the central square.
(Fig. 1.4) Externally, the relationship of the

dome upper walls of the square and


to the
then, descending order, to a major half-
in

dome, to two minor ones flanking a large


semicircular window, to banks of grilled
lower windows punctuated by spurs of a
buttressing wall, and finally to gates seen
through arched recesses at the ground
level all this can be frugally abstracted in

an elevation drawing of the west front.


These particular drawings are newly
made; but some version of them was un-
doubtedly prepared in the sixth century by
the architects of Hagia Sophia, Isidoros and
Anthemios, to convey to their patron, Em-
peror Justinian, the form of the church he
had commissioned. There are extant archi-
tectural drawings from as far back as an-
cient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Indeed, it is
hard to see how any structure but the sim-
plest and the most traditional could be built
without the benefit of such preliminaries.
Now these devices are formal. In almost
every instance they would have been pre-
ceded by dozens of sketches and diagrams
as the architect's thought developed from
an conception
initial of the building to the
final solution. When they survive, and are
propedy put in order, such studies help to
document the very process of design. Look
at the plan of Louis Kahn's National Assem-
bly at Dacca, Pakistan; and at another wisp
of form in pencil that started it all. They
bracket the elusive but fundamental sub-
stance of what we call architecture, acom-
plicated course the historian must traverse
to make sense of its tangible end, the
building itself. (Fig. 1.5)

Fig. 1.2 Rome (Italy), Pant eon, ca. a.d. 118-26;


interior, view toward dom
T ,

I
THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT

precise responsibilities of the parties con-


cerned. The erection of public monuments
necessitated administrative committees
whose trail can be followed in the minutes
of their deliberations, reports, and records
of payment. Beyond
immediate con-
this
text, architectural production would have
been affected, directly or indirectly, by the
towns' building codes, ordinances of
building trades and guilds, theoretical trea-
tises, and manuals of construction.
Again, as with visual representations, the
building may live in literary sources long
past completion. First, there is self-serv-
its

ing advertisement after the fact. Patrons


often sing the praises of their creation in
dedicatory or commemorative inscriptions
or tablets. It was the function of court his-
torians to extol the building program of their
employer. We also have to heed descrip-
tions of past buildings in old travel ac-
counts or in annals and local chronicles. In
all of this, historians of architecture need
Fig. 1.3 Thomas Cole, The Architect's Dream, 1840.
(Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio) to borrow the philologist's discipline. But
language, the agent of expression, is also
the hotbed of ambiguity. And the transla-
tion of words into the physical substance of
architecture is peculiarly open to conten-
tion.
The point to remember, then, is that interpreting the evidence they provide, be- We
might illustrate this point by focus-
graphic and plastic images are indispens- cause the conventions of the various me- ing on one monument of antiquity, the fa-
able in the making of architecture and for dia employed are peculiar to themselves. A mous tomb of King Mausolos of Caria at
its understanding after the fact. They are the photograph is a faithful record that regis- Halikarnassos that gave us the word mau-
conventional language through which the ters all incidents of form, however trifling, soleum. It was considered one of the seven
architect communicates with his partners in that fall within the range of its fixed frame. wonders of the Classical world. It disap-
the act of shaping our daily environment. In the hands of a painter the same building peared long ago with hardly a trace except
These are the patron or client who employ may be pictured less clinically, its mass for fragments of its sculptural decoration,
the architect to mold their architectural generalized and rendered in sharp, simple now housed inMuseum in Lon-
the British
wishes, and the many hands involved in surfaces of shadow and light. (Fig. 1.6) This don, and odd bits of the structure that were
building the structure. That same language is testimony of a different kind. Yet it can built into the castle of Bodrum which oc-
assists students of architectural history to be just as useful as the photograph; for ar- cupies the site. The Mausoleum of Halikar-
get to know structures they have never seen chitectural reality has more to it than stick nassos lived on in memory through men-
or have seen and not comprehended in full, and stone, and the history of architecture tions of and its creators in later Latin
it

and one of the earliest tasks for them is to more dimensions than just the categorical. which the most detailed is a
literature, of
learn to read architectural drawings and passage from the Natural History of Pliny the
models with ease. The Literary Evidence Elder.
Once a building is up it becomes a live Literary sources, images, yield much
like This is the tomb that was built by Artemisia for

presence, to be reproduced at will. It might essential insight for our study of architec- her husband Mausolos, the viceroy of Caria, who
figure on paintings and sculpture in relief, ture. The birth of most structures of con- died in the second year of the 107th Olympiad
[351 B.C.]. ... On the north and south sides it
on maps, or photographs. Models
prints, sequence assumes the existence of written
extends for 63 feet, but the length of the facades
of it might be made to serve as votive of- documents, some of which may come to be
is less, the total length of the facades and sides
ferings to a germane cult, for example, or preserved by design or accident. At times,
being 440 feet. The building rises to a height of
to be sold as mementoes to visitors or pil- patrons may express their wishes to the ar-
25 cubits and enclosed by 36 columns.
is . . .

grims. For the history of architecture there chitect in writing. The architect, in turn, may Above the colonnade there is a pyramid as high
is valuable information in all of these re- have passed on written instructions to sub- again as the lower structure and tapering in 24
productions. But we have to be cautious in ordinates. Legal contracts delineate the stages to the top of its peak. At the summit there
F O lO 50 lOO 200 300

MO 10 25 50 lOO

Fig. 1.4 Istanbul (Constantinople, Turkey), Hagia


Sophia, 532-37, Isidoros and Anthemios: (a)

longitudinal section; (b) ground plan.


THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT

is a four-horse chariot of marble, and this was


made by Pythis. The addition of this chariot
The Total Context of Architecture
rounds off the whole work and brings it to a
The effort to establish, through the scru-
height of 140 feet.
tiny of visual and literary documents, what
Recreating the physical appearance of the past architecture really looked like will have
Mausoleum on the strength of these words already involved us with questions not
is an exceedingly difficult procedure. First strictly pertinent to physical form. These
one has to establish the accuracy of the might include the identity of the patrons,
words themselves. Pliny lived two thou- particulars about the motivation for the
sand years ago. His book came down to us buildings commissioned, the identity and
in various texts, in Latin and Creek; these careers of the architects, the nature of the
contain disparities or alternate readings materials of construction and their prove-
because of different copyists and the nance, matters of finance, and so on. But
interpretation of modern scholars. This is even this is not the outermost limit of the
no trivial Dimensions, whether
matter. legitimate concern of architectural history.
written in Roman numerals or small letters We have to push further still, to the broader
and accents in the Creek manner, are eas- frame of general history, for those strands
ily miscopied or misread. And yet they have or patterns that illuminate the total setting
to be the basis of any reconstruction. of architectural production.
Transpose the two initial letters of the word Architecture, to state the obvious, is a
and altitudinem becomes latitudinem, social act social both in method and pur-
changing the meaning of "a pyramid as high pose. It is the outcome of teamwork; and
again as the lower structure" to "as wide"; it is there to be made use of by groups of
both readings have their adherents. people, groups as small as the family or as
There were four centuries between Mau- large as an entire nation. Architecture is a
solos and Pliny. The description itself may costly act. It engages specialized talent, ap-
therefore be inaccurate and Pliny may have propriate technology, handsome funds.
erred in writing. At least one scholar be- Because this is so, the history of architec-
lieves that, when
gave the width of the
Pliny ture partakes, in a basic way, of the study
north and south sides as 63 feet, he really of the social, economic, and technological
meant to say cubits, a unit of measurement systems of human history. To understand
that one
is half of a foot longer: there is no the Carson Pirie Scott department store in

other way which the dimensions of the


in Chicago fully, we must know something of
original foundations as they have been ex- late-nineteenth-century American capitalist
tracted from the site could be reconciled enterprise, the philosophy of consumer-
with such a small figure. And of course the ism, and the business ethic; the urban his-
passage in question does not furnish all the tory of Chicago since the Fire of 1871; cor-
particulars. It does not say, for example, porate financing and land values; the
how high the pedestal was or how the col- genesis of the department store as a novel
umns that surrounded the building were concept in commercial architecture; the
arranged. elevator and the early history of steel-frame
Historians must juggle all these variables skyscraper construction. (Fig. 1.8)

and come up with a building that is a fair approach should be kept in the
This
interpretation of the literary and archaeo- foreground as the ideal way to learn about
logical
and a credible form ar-
evidence our built environment. If we are to be sat-
chitecturally.They must deduce from the isfied with less, as we must, it should be on

one surviving column the style of the bases the condition that we agree on what the
and the cornice of the surrounding colon- total context of architecture is. Every build-
nade, relying on the current knowledge of ing represents a social artifact of specific
the general development of Creek archi- impulse, energy, and commitment. That is

tecture. should not surprise us, then, that


It its meaning, and this meaning resides in its

two versions of the Mausoleum of Halikar- physical form. Neither material reality alone
Fig. Dacca (Bangladesh), National Assembly
1.5
nassos as different as the ones we illustrate nor general background of culture will suf-
Building, 1965-74, Louis I. Kahn: (a) ground plan;
could be spawned by the same data. (Fig. fice to explainthe peculiar nature of the
(b) sketch plan, 1963.
1.7) building. And the task of the architectural
A PLACE ON EARTH

Fig. 1.6a Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Col-


osseum Seen from the Farnese Gardens, 1826.
(Louvre, Paris, France)

historian, in the long run, can be nothing


less than the search for the peculiar nature
of those artifacts of place that constitute our
architectural heritage.
Let us describe plainly at the outset the
thinking that will govern our historical in-
quiry. It is not a universal approach among
architectural historians: it need not be. The
selection for emphasis among the many
specimens of architecture, the arrange-
ment and interpretation of facts known
about them, the personal judgment of each
historian, the vantage point of the time and
philosophy within which he or she oper-
ates all these variables help create as many
histories of architecture as there are histo-
rians. In that sense, history is manufac-
tured by historians, and any building or
person or event in this process can acquire
as much weight as is consonant with each
historian's purpose.
There are four premises that underlie the
scope and treatment of our survey. First, the
material aspect of every building should be
looked at in its entirety. Second, the build-
ing should be thought of in a broader
physical framework and not just in terms of
itself. Third, all buildings of the past, re-
gardless of size or status or consequence,
should ideally be deemed worthy of study.
And finally, the extramaterial elements that
should be
affect the existence of buildings
considered indispensable to their appreci-
ation.

1. The Oneness of Architecture


The tangible presence of a building is in-
divisible. The structure that holds it up, the
aesthetic refinement of its appearance, its

decoration and furnishings are all of one


piece. We cannot put aside the mosaic
scheme of the interior of a Byzantine church
on the grounds that, being inessential to the

Fig. 1.6b Rome (Italy), Colosseum, a.d. 72-80;


aerial view.

THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT

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Fig. Halikamassos (Bodrum, Turkey), tomb of


1.7 tyros; reconstruction drawings: (a) by K. )eppe-
King Mausolos, ca. 355-350 B.C., Pythios and Sa- sen, 1958; (b) by ). ). Stevenson, 1896.

architectural frame as such, it is best dealt cisely to deny the physical integrity of the And yet here, as in many other build-
with independently by art historians. Not buildings. Preoccupation with structure ings, the special excitement of architec-
only are Byzantine mosaics physically in- leads to technological determinism, the kind tural intention resides in the tug of war be-
separable from the architectural frame of of thinking that is attempted to explain all tween the structural and formal systems.
their buildings, their placement takes ad- major characteristics of the form of the One or the other at times may seem to take
vantage of this frame to set up a ceremon- Carson Pirie Scott store in terms of the el- over openly and condition the final effect
ial hierarchy of parts basic to the theater of evator, prefabrication, and the steel frame. the building will have on its users. The Eif-
liturgy housed therein, and their subject The contrary preoccupation with the ele- fel Tower, for example, seems structure
informs this theater with precise theologi-
ments of design the interweaving of ver- triumphant. By contrast, the simple under-
cal meaning. (Fig. 1.9) tical and horizontal members, the rounded lying construct of uprights and lintels
For similar reasons, we cannot divorce the corner at the crossing of State and Madi- transforms the Greek temple, at least su-
structure of a building from the aesthetic son streets, the rich ornamentation of the perficially, into something approaching pure

conventions that shape its appearance


entrance pavilion would tend to equate form. But if for the Eiffel Tower the ex-
what we call its style. Buildings are neither skin with substance and dilute the fact that posed tangle of metal struts is the better
primarily structural frames, nor primarily Louis Sullivan's is not exclusively an ab- part of the form, for the Parthenon on the
envelopes of form: to write a history of ar- stract mold of visual order but a construc- Athenian Akropolis the clear statement of
chitecture from the perspective of one of tion of enormous scale that has managed form, the exterior colonnade with its ga-
these in favor of the other would be pre- to stand up and to remain standing. bled ends, is also an appropriate diagram
A PLACE ON EARTH

of the structure.The two buildings may start


from opposite impulses, but they reach the
same result. Structure and form are basi-
cally one and the same. (Figs. 1.10, 1.11)
In most instances, however, the partner-

ship is more intricate. Look again at the


church of Hagia Sophia, and you will no-
tice that the impression it conveys to those
within is engendered by means of a strong
structural skeleton, purposely obscured by
the architects. (Figs. 1.4, 11.28) The heavy-
set piers detectable on the plan, to men-
tion only one point, are veiled in three di-
mensions, at least toward the nave, so that
only a thin projection of them is allowed
beyond the columnar screen that separates
the nave from the aisles. As a conse-
quence, it appears that the great dome rests
lightly on the lower structure of the build-
ing, soaring without effort; while in reality
its full weight presses down on those four

tremendous masonry piers. But what un-


der close analysis seems at odds struc-
tural fact and aesthetic intention is in ac-
tuality an integral fabric that cannot be
judged but as an entity.

2. The Setting of Architecture


No building is an isolated object, sufficient
unto itself. It belongs in a larger setting,
within a bit of nature or a neighborhood of
other buildings, or both, and derives much
of its character from this natural or manu-
factured environment that embraces it. The
Parthenon does not exist without the em-
phatic outcrop of rock called the Akropolis
on which it perches and the visible range
of mountains beyond, which rings the arid
bowl of Attica. The setting of Chartres Ca-
thedral or the Carson Pirie Scott depart-
Chicago (Illinois), Carson Pirie Scott de-
Fig. 1.8 department store), 1899-1904, Louis Sullivan
ment store is quintessentially urban. (Fig.
partment store (formerly Schlesinger and Mayer (extension, 1906, Daniel H. Burnham and Co.).
1.12) The scale and authority of both build-
ings depend on the stamp of surrounding
construction small-scale residences in the
case of Chartres, tall commercial develop-
ment in the case of the store. Changes in

this urban situation during the course of The way we experience architecture also stumble on the building unexpectedly, or
time will promptly affect the character of the works against the notion of buildings as approach it from the back or from the sides.
two buildings. We must, then, consider past fixed objects. Tools of design such as We might catch glimpses of it at sunset or
buildings not as permanent bodies in a models and drawings yield a rigid sense of in a winter storm or look down on it from

vacuum but, instead,componentsof a varie- architecture, a sense furthered by the req- taller structures in the vicinity. Trying to
gated arrangement subject to constant uisite stability of buildings. But our expe- account for this arbitrariness, to be con-
change. From this perspective the history rience of architecture is not one of static scious of setting, environmental circum-
of architecture may be said to be, in part, images. We move up to a building and stance, and kinetic vision, brings architec-
the study of the interaction of buildings with through it and our roving eye registers an tural history within the fold of architectural
nature and with one another. infinite number of impressions. We might experience, so that buildings of the past are

10 i
THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT

Fig. 1.10 Paris (France), Eiffel Tower, 1887-89,

Custave Eiffel; view from below.

Fig. 1.9 Stiris (Greece), monastery of Hosios


Loukas, Church of the Theotokos, ca. 1040; in-
terior, view toward dome.

not reduced to neutral relics but manage to


keep some of the flavor of their genesis and
subsequent use.
How buildings are depicted indicates how
they are perceived. To the serious travelers
of the eighteenth century, like James Stuart
and Nicholas Revett who
took it upon
themselves to record the legendary re-
mains of Greece for the first time since an-
tiquity, there are two modes of percep-
tion: the topical and the archaeological.
(Fig. 1.13) To introduce each monument,
they resorted to the picturesque tableau.
They show the Parthenon at the time of their
visit in 1751,when Athens was a sleepy
provincial town within the Ottoman Em-
pireand the Akropolis served as the head-
quarters for the Turkish governor. The
temple stands in a random cluster of mod-
est houses; in it we can see a Turk on
horseback and, through the colonnade, the
vaulted forms of the small Byzantine church
that rose within the body of the temple

11
A PLACE ON EARTH

during the Middle Ages. This is what the


Parthenon looks like today, the authors are
saying; and this depiction carries at once the
quaint appeal of an exotic land and that
sense of the vanity of things which comes
over us at the sight of the sad dilapidation
of onetime splendors.
But when they turn from romance to ar-
chaeology, the task of showing the Par-
thenon not as it is now but as it was then,
Stuart and Revett restrict themselves to the
measured drawing. They re-create, in im-
maculate engravings of sharp clear lines, the
original design of the temple in suitably re-
duced scale and with a careful tally of di-
mensions. We are confronted again with the
traditional abstractions of the architect's
trade. Indeed, those architects who, in
subsequent decades, wished to imitate the
Parthenon as a venerable form of rich as-
sociational value could do so readily from
these precise plates of Stuart and Revett,
without once having seen Athens for
themselves. In nineteenth-century Phila-
delphia, for example, the disembodied fa-

cade of the Parthenon reconstructed as


is Fig. 1.11 Athens (Greece), Parthenon, 447-432
the Second Bank of the United States in an B.C., Iktinos and Kalllkrates.
urban milieu that is completely alien to the
setting of the prototype. (Fig. 1.14)
Against the engravings of Stuart and Rev-
ett, we might pit two pencil sketches of the
Akropolis made by Le Corbusier during his This environmental approach is new to status, or consequence, deserve to be
apprenticeship travels in the early years of architectural history. responds primarily
It studied. It has not always been so. Histo-
this century. (Fig. 1.15) The close-up view to the increasing concern within the archi- rians have chosen for the most part to con-
is neither picturesque nor archaeological. tectural profession for a sympathetic coex- centrate on buildings of evident sub-
Itdoes not show us the ubiquitous tourists istence between new structures and the stance imposing public monuments,
scrambling over the site, for example, nor older neighborhoods within which they are religious architecture, and rich, stately res-
any other transient features of local rele- planted. The move lately has been toward idences.
vance. Nor is the sketch a reproduceable respecting the built fabric of our commu- The preference is not hard to under-
paradigm of the essential design of the nities as it stands; avoiding egocentric forms stand. It is on such important or grand
Parthenon. Instead, we see the temple the or monumental gestures that would dis- structures that a culture expends its great-
way Le Corbusier experienced it, climbing rupt its tone and quality; striving for the est energy. Built of costly, durable mate-
toward it up the steep west slope of this enhancement of physical continuities in our rials, they last longer than their immediate
natural citadel, and catching sight of it at a cities; and, finally, using nature as partner environment because they are meant to.
dynamic angle through the inner colon- in the act of building rather than as adver- They are associated with notable patrons
nade of the Propylaia, the ceremonial gate sary. Such an inclusive concept of the en- and architects of rank. They are the subject
of the Akropolis. The long view shows the vironment carries a double promise: solic- of comment in their time and later, and thus
building in relation to the larger shapes of itude for older buildings of any period and provide the historian with sufficient raw
nature that complement its form: the ped- any style; and tolerance for the presence of material to make a case for them.
the Akropolis spur that lifts it up like
estal of humbler stretches in the built fabric. Both But there is more to it than that. The his-
a piece of sculpture and the Attic mountain hold important lessons for the history of torian of architecture has effortlessly come
chain on the horizon which echoes its mass. architecture. to identify with the architect, and, like him
And when Le Corbusier draws on this ex- or her, has accepted the traditional distinc-
perience later in his own work, it is the 3. The Community of Architecture tion between architecture and building.
memory of the building as a foil to nature This is what our third premise is all about: Architecture in this polarity is high art, a
that guides his vision. (Fig. 1.16) that all past buildings, regardless of size. conscious creation of aesthetic form that

12
THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT

Fig. 1.12 Chartres (France) Cathedral, 1194-ca.


1230; view in urban setting.

transcends the practical requirements of Now delight, venustas, makes building an profit. In addition, many buildings come
function and structure. This preeminent art, the art of architecture. Delight is se- about extemporaneously without the ben-
quality is what Vitruvius, the Roman archi- cured through the offices of the architect, efit of professional counsel, sometimes even

tect who wrote around the time of Christ, a professional person whose training and as a grass roots production of shelter by the
called venustas (beauty); he distinguished talent equip him or her to enhance what will users themselves.
itfrom the other two, matter-of-fact com- be built with aesthetic appeal. To insist on Since delight, in this scheme of things, is

ponents of architecture, utilitas (function) this prerogative, architects distinguished a luxury, and since it assumes the sophis-
and firmitas (structure). This architectural themselves in the modern period from en- tication to feel the need for it and the wealth
trinity is best known to the English- gineers, who lay roads and ford rivers with to afford it, architects have traditionally
speaking world in the famous phraseology the primary aim of solving technical prob- served the highest strata of society the
of Sir Henry Wotton as commodity, firm- lems, as well as from builders, merchants state, the religious establishment, the up-
ness, and delight. of new construction who are motivated by per classes. Thus, in accepting the dichot-

13
A PLACE ON EARTH

Fig. 1.13 James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, The


Antiquities of Athens, 1760-1830, Parthenon: (a)

contemporary view; (b) measured drawing.

omy of architecture and building, histori-


ans have
allied themselves with this
view of our built world. The
aristocratic
history of architecture became synony-
mous with the history of monuments.
For a number
of reasons, this view would
seem be needlessly restrictive. Much of
to
what we build does not qualify as "archi-
tecture" in this strict sense; nonetheless,
these buildings are often imbued with
quality. The grouping of a Nepalese village
in its natural setting, farmhouses in New
England, the anonymous streetscapes of

Mexican towns these structures can de-
light us though they are created without the
help of qualified architects. (Fig. 1.17) In-
deed, we have lately all become increas-
ingly attracted to a wide range of vernacu-
lar idioms, what has come to be known as
"architecture without architects." Its ap-
peal proves how unwarranted it is to claim
that even the humblest of structures is un-

Fig. 1.14 Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Second


National Bank of the United States, 1818-24,
William Strickland; view, ca. 1868.

14
THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT

^<#- 4
^ 1
Fig. 1.15 Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard )ean- distant view; (b) Parthenon as seen through the
neret), sketches of the Akropolis in Athens: (a) Propylaia.

touched by aesthetic concern or devoid of pose of architectural history is to examine representative. And so it would be as im-
aesthetic appeal. To be sure, this is an in- the constructive impulses of distant and proper to evaluate the constructive im-
nocent sort of visual order. There is no recent cultures. As with all investigations of pulse of a nation exclusively through its lit-
conscious theory behind it, no intellectual- the past, the belief persists implicitly that, erate architecture public monuments and
ized system of form. But it demonstrates through a proper understanding of the act buildings of prestige as would be to de-
it

that delight an elusive thing that may ap-


is of making places, this most essential skill termine its social character on the basis of
ply as readily to the random and unstudied of all without which life cannot, literally, its leading personages alone. To the extent
as it does to the calculated designs of the exist, we come closer to understanding that American society at the time of George
professional. ourselves. When we exhort historians to be Washington depended on slave labor, to
There is perhaps a more basic considera- objective, we mean not so much that they pick one random instance, the architec-
tion for resisting the distinction between should be unfeeling or uncommitted, but tural history of the period must include slave
architecture and building. The general pur- that their assessments should be full and cabins as well as Mount Vernon.
The truth is that modest structures in the
periphery of monuments are not simply of
intrinsic value; they are also essential to the
correct interpretation of the monuments
Fig. 1.16 Le Corbusier, sketch of Assembly
themselves. Slave cabins, outhouses, herb
Building, Chandigarh, India, 1958.
gardens, and water vats complete the
meaning of the plantation house. This may
seem obvious to us because Southern
plantations are a familiar institution of our
recent past. If they were not and we sub-
scribed to the aristocratic view of architec-
tural history, the neglect of the subsidiary
buildings might well have contributed to the
misreading of our focal object, the planta-
tion house itself.

Our appeal, therefore, is for a more


inclusive definition of architecture and,
consequently, a more democratic view of
architectural history. The aim is to put aside
the invidious distinctions between archi-

15

iAU
A PLACE ON EARTH

lecture and building, architecture and en-


gineering, architecture and speculative de-
velopment; to treat buildings with equal
curiosity whether they are religious in in-
tent, monumental, utilitarian, or residen-
tial; to discriminate carefully among styles
or conventions of form without discrimi-
nating against any of them; and to have a
genuine respect for the architectural
achievement of cultures regardless of their
place of origin and their racial and theo-
logical identities.
The last two observations deserve a fur-
ther word. If historians have been partial to

high-class buildings as the subject of their


scrutiny, theyhave not always been impar-
tial in treatment of all high-class
their
buildings. They have turned on occasion
into active champions
of one style at the
expense of another, justifying their prefer-
ence in terms of aesthetic, structural, or
even moral arguments. At one time or an-
other. Renaissance architecture was ex-
tolled over Gothic; Baroque architecture
was deprecated as excessively gaudy; and
the dominant Beaux-Arts classicism of pub-
lic buildings in America at the turn of the

century was minimized in favor of the oc-


casional unorthodoxy of design that pre-
saged new directions.
The historian must attempt to speak of
architecture as it was, not as it should have
been. We have no further control over what
has happened. We have the duty to under-
stand sympathetically how it was and why
it happened. To scold the nineteenth cen-

tury, say, for what it did or did not do is,


for the historian, no more than personal
indulgence. To it should not be
insist that
repeated is useful and the proper function
Fig. 1.17 Magar (Nepal), a village.
of the critic.
History has no alternative but to accept
that matters of quality are not absolute, that
the terms of quality are set by each period
if not by each building. Ornament, for ex- This is not to say that in writing about the exact contemporary in Athens, the temple

ample, has had wider acceptance at certain architecture of the past wecan forgo the of Hephaistos which overlooks the market-
times in history than at others, but there is exercise of critical judgment. It means place. (Figs. 1.11, 7.14)
no universal law regarding the propriety of merely that we must first establish the What we have just said has special per-
ornament in architecture. Vitruvius de- premises that govern a style or the form of tinence for our attitude toward non-
votes a learned chapter book to "The
in his a particular building, and then proceed to Western traditions of architecture. In our
Ornaments of the Orders." To Adolf Loos judge the style or the building in the con- general scheme of things, these traditions
in 1908, "Ornament is crime." We should text of these premises. Whereas the com- have always held a secondary place. This
not have to decide between Classical ar- petitive juxtaposition of the Parthenon and imbalance is natural given the preoccupa-
chitecture and the work of Loos on the ba- Chartres Cathedral would serve no useful tion of each culture with itself. But it be-
sis of some presumed immutable principle purpose, it would be quite legitimate to comes reprehensible if the relative inatten-
of "correct" design. compare critically the Parthenon with its tion to non-Western achievement is justified

16
THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT

in terms of general worthiness the men-


tality that says: If it is not well known, it is

because it does not deserve to be. In a


popular history of architecture one could
still read, as late as 1956, the following
characterization of non-Western architec-
ture.'

Eastern art presents many features to which Eu-


Fig. 1.18 Granada (Spain), palace of the Alham-
ropeans are unaccustomed, and which therefore
bra, 1354-91, Court of Lions.
often strike them as unpleasing or bizzare; but
it must be remembered that use is second na-

ture, and in considering the many forms which


to us verge on the grotesque, we must make al-
lowance for that essential difference between East
and West. These nonhistorical styles can
. . .

scarcely be as interesting from an architect's point


of view as those of Europe, which have pro-
gressed by the successive solution of construc-
tive problems, resolutely met and overcome: for
in the East decorative schemes seem generally to
have outweighed all other considerations, and in
^^^^^^^H ^^B r /////// /////j^^^^^H '

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H thiswould appear to lie the essential difference


between historical and nonhistorical architec-
ture.

Noxious Western chauvinism pervades


the tone of this passage. To call the com-
bined effort of China, India, Japan, and the
core countries of Islam around the Medi-

LI terranean "nonhistorical" is tantamount to


removing one-half of civilized architecture
from the realm of serious study and reliev-
ing us from the burden of understanding it.
Among its products, the Eastern world can
boast of the Great Wall of China, the chait-
ya at Karii, the imperial mosques of Istan-
bul monuments would surely belie
that
that the East is innocent of good construc-
tion. (Figs. 10.25, 10.18, 19.11)
But allbeside the point. The cen-
this is

tral purpose of architecture


is not victory

over matter. Architecture, in the end, is


nothing more and nothing less than the gift
of making places for some human pur-
pose. Structure in this process is no more
essential than texture or decoration or
space. The palace of the Alhambra in Gran-
ada, as is plain to any student of its fabric,
is shoddily built. Nevertheless, by general
admission, it ranks among the most allur-
ing of architectural wonders. (Fig. 1.18)

I have tried in this book to do more with

1. The book referred to is Sir Banister Fletcher's A His-


tory of Architectureon the Comparative Method, first
published in London in 18%. The passage we quote is
omitted in the revised seventeenth edition, published
in 1961.

17
A PLACE ON EARTH

non-Western architecture than the token


chapter or two allotted to it in surveys of
this kind. Not only is more space devoted
to the subject than is customary, but the
content of these alien traditions is brought,
at least cursorily, into the discussion of
Western traditions. Although the architec-
tural interdependence of East and West is
far from being documented exhaustively, or
even adequately, cross-cultural chapters
throughout the book rely on the artless
principle of simultaneity to draw together
all significant events of architecture in sev-
eral cultural areas that coincided at specific
points in human history. Our esteem for
Chartres Cathedral will be more balanced
if we were made aware that this master-
piece of medieval Christianity rose during
the same decades in which Indochina saw
the specter of the great temple complex at
Angkor Wat, the empire of Islam under-
took the mosque and mausoleum of Sultan
Qala'un in Cairo and the great Seljuk car-
avanserais of Anatolia, and the Meso-
American cultures of the Toltecs and the Fig. 1.19 Ciza (Egypt), pyramids of Mykerinos, tively, on Fig. 4.11), ca. 2570-2500 B.C.; view from
Cheops, and Chefren (nos. 3, 2, and 1, respec- southwest.
Maya produced enduring monuments of
stone like the ball court and observatory of
Chichen Itza.

4. The Meaning of Architecture


The fourth and final premise of this book tradition, a fixture in the continuum of form our time, the nineteenth century went
concerns the meaning of buildings. Build- which new buildings are forever replenish- through a whole series of revivals the
ings are not only physical presences. To ing. Gothic, the Creek, the Egyptian, the Ro-
study as fully as we can what they are does This is not to imply a historical determin-
manesque, the Exotic each with its own
not exonerate us from asking why they are ism of form, whereby each building must rationale of form and association.
there, and why they are the way they are. be considered the ineluctable offspring of But there is at least one further motiva-
These questions must be answered, or at its predecessors. There are many factors that tion for sequence: the sheer competitive
least asked, and they must be answered in condition sequence, not the least of which drive that prompted patrons of architec-
relation to two extramaterial concepts: time is the intention of the patron and the ar- ture, time and again through the ages, to
and purpose. chitect. But tradition is there: it is a lan- create monuments that would outshine the
Time implies sequence. Every building is guage, a source, a challenge. It is the great splendor or outstrip the size of some leg-
caught in the web of the fourth dimension. container of architectural experience, and endary masterpiece of the past. What is
Threads extend from it backward and for- no building can live outside of it. Behind being recalled in these is not the physical
ward, to other buildings whose existence what we call architectural revivals lies the form but the fame of the prototype. There
has touched it or been touched by it. desire to emulate the architectural mode of is no evident similarity between the temple

Buildings, to say it differently, are based on another place and another time, not only of Solomon in Jerusalem, as we might re-
buildings. As a building goes up it cannot to show esteem for the older tradition, but construct it from the description of it in the
ignore the millennial landscape of form into also in order to associate ourselves with the Book of Kings, and Hagia Sophia in Con-
which it will soon emerge. Once it is up, it spirit and values that we think were preva- stantinople. And yet it was this biblical
will itself be irrevocable, however long its lent there and then. The rule of Charle- splendor that Emperor Justinian had in
natural life, as a sound is irrevocable once magne made a conscious return to the ar- mind when he stood in the nave of his new
it has been uttered. The building may de- chitecture of Rome and Ravenna in order church on the day of its inauguration, 27
light or disgust us; we may grow to revere to inspire its belief that it was reviving Ro- December a.d. 537, and said, Nenikika se
it or make fun of it, cross ourselves as we man rule; the age of the Renaissance sought Solomon, "1 have surpassed thee Solo-
go by it or call it by an unflattering nick- to design its own aspirations based on the mon." Six centuries later the abbot Suger,
name. But we get used to it. It becomes model of Classical antiquity; and, closer to obsessed with the reputation of Justinian's

18
THE STUDY OF WHAT WE BUILT

masterpiece which had established itself as human activities, the history of architec- messages are elicited through the ques-
the greatest church of Christendom, took ture is inevitably linked to the pageantry of tions that are preoccupying us today. The
this fame as his special challenge in under- human endeavors government, religion, way we interpret the culture of a period or
taking to rebuild the abbey church of St.- commerce, knowledge and its preserva- a nation through its architecture may tell us
Denis. tion, justice and its administration. If it is as much about it as about ourselves.
Purpose refers to Wotton's commodity, also true that architecture expresses hu- is no grave danger. It is true that
But this
the way in which a building accommodates man needs as much as it contains the var- for our quantifiable information about
all

its prescribed function. Perhaps a better ious functions of our daily life, the history the pyramid of Cheops, for all our knowl-
word would be ritual, for function tends to of architecture should try, before itis done, edge of Egyptian religion and the beliefs of
undermine and mechanize the concept of to look at buildings as palpable images of the afterlife, we will never know what that
purpose. The function of a tomb is to house the values and aspirations of the societies colossus of Tura limestone and granite
the dead. But how adequate a purpose is that produced them. meant to the pharaoh and his court, to the
this for the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh This final challenge is the most funda- priests who officiated at his burial rites and
Cheops? Why the stupendous bulk of this mental, but also the most dangerous. It his subsequent cult, to the Old Kingdom
pyramid, the megalomaniacal pile of ma- enters the seductive reaches of interpreta- peasant who tilled the mud banks of the
sonry that weighs millions of tons and rises tion where proof is never positive. Reading Nile. But we can be sure that they were not
mountainlike to a height of 143 meters (470 buildings as the embodiment of the social indifferent, any more than we are indiffer-
feet). Why all this for the tomb of one man? order that produced them is no easy mat- ent to the Washington Monument or the
(Fig. 1.19) Why Hagia Sophia, with a dome ter. For one thing, buildings do not always Lincoln Memorial.
33 meters (107 feet) in diameter, swelling to passively reflect society.Sometimes they That much has remained constant in the
a point some 55 meters (180 feet) above our seek to mould social attitudes, or to spell long history of our built environment: the
heads, if all that is really needed is a capa- out what there ought to be. Do the pyra- involvement we feel with the houses we live
cious hall to contain large congregations of mids of Giza truly express the absolute in, the sanctuaries we pray in, and where
Byzantines? (Fig. 11.28) power of the pharaoh, or were they built we are buried, the quarters of our oppres-
"All architecture," John
Ruskin wrote, to help create this impression among the sors and benefactors, the places of our im-
"proposes an effect on the human mind, Egyptians of the Old Kingdom? For, as Lewis prisonment and our healing. For this rea-
not merely a service to the human frame." Mumford once observed, it is often the case son if no other, we must conclude the long
Ritual may be said to be the poetry of func- that "the more shaky the institution, the process of studying the architecture of eras
tion: insofar as a building shaped by rit- is more solid the monument; repeatedly civ- that have gone by with the fundamental and
ual it does not simply house function, it ilization has exemplified Patrick Geddes' dangerous question: "What did it mean?"
comments on it. The pyramid of Cheops dictum that the perfection of the architec- In the impossible answer may lie the hu-

ensures the safety and long-lastingness of tural form does not come till the institution manity of past cultures and ours; for it
the pharaoh's corpse and makes tangible to sheltered by it is on the point of passing should be "the task of the architectural
his people the hope that resides in his per- away."^ historian," to quote an architectural histo-
petuity. Hagia Sophia sings the ineffable- Architecture is a medium of cultural rian, "to prove that there is no past in man's

ness of Christian mystery in providing a expression only to the extent that we are concern for the environment of man." *

space of which one user is man and the able to absorb its messages. And these
other user is unseen and unpredictable.
To the extent, then, that architecture is 2. Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities (New York: 3. Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, Journal of the Society of Archi-
the useful art that lays ready the stage for Harcourt, Brace, 1938), p. 434. tectural Historians, vol. XXVI (1967), p. 181.

Further Reading

B. Allsopp, The Study of Architectural History (New , The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Mean- H. A. Millon, ed.. Key Monuments in the History of
York: Praeger, 1970). ings Through History (Boston: Little, Brown, Architecture (New York: Abrams, 1965).
B. Fletcher, A History of Architecture, 18th ed., rev. 1991). N. Pevsner, A History of Building Types (Princeton:
(New York: Scribner, 1975). , ed., The Architect: Chapters in the History Princeton University Press, 1976).
S. Kostof, The City Assembled: The Elements of of the Profession (New York: Oxford, 1977). D. Watkin, The Rise of Architectural History (Lon-
Urban Form Through History (Boston: Little, Mainstone, Developments in Structural Form don: Architectural Press, 1980).
Brown, 1992). (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1975).

19
Avebury (England), Neolithic circle, third millennium B.C.
THE CAVE AND THE SKY: STONE AGE EUROPE

The Beginning
Where do we start with a history of archi- shells. Inseeking to bring about places for made of it the stage of their progressively
tecture? When did architecture begin? ritual action,it must set out to define the organized life. They turned a spot of earth
Human beings, in their own distinctive boundless, that is, to limit space without into a special place.
form, have been inhabiting the earth for necessarily enclosing it in all three dimen- And here a chief invention, fire, proved
more than one million years. For most of sions. It does two specific ways:
this in to be place-maker. It drove the wild
a great
that time they were unaware of architec- through circumscription and accent, in the beasts from the caves and kept them at bay;
ture, by that term we want to understand
if first, it arrests and patterns the flow of it made the home of the moment safe. But

the ambitious creation of an environment ground. This we might call architecture as beyond this, the burning fire molded an
separate from the natural order. But if, as boundary; examples are a "plot" of land or ambience of companionship, a station for
we suggested, architecture describes sim- a walled town. The second way involves the the hunter to pause, cook his game, harden
ply the act of making places for ritual use, setting up of free structures that, by their his tools, and communicate with his band
it was one of the earliest human needs. very mass and height, might focus an oth- of fellows. The earliest hearth known to us,
Indeed, architecture may be said to have erwise undifferentiated stretch of open at the great cave of Escale in southern
been there from the beginning, in raw form
space architecture as monument. France, goes back more than 500,000 years.
as it were, in the very arrangement of na- Boundary and monument both imply a That may well be our first documented
ture. For only if we conceive of the earth determined marking of nature. Humans piece of architecture a bit of nature in-

as a vast and featureless plain stretching impose through them their own order on formed with the daily ritual of Homo erec-
unendingly in all directions would we have nature, and in doing so introduce that tug tus.

the total absence of architecture. Once of balance between the way things are and Terra Amata holds the oldest artificial

there are ridges and rivers to divide this the way we want them to be. Now the first structures of which we have evidence. The
expanse, hills to punctuate it, and caves to human generations lacked such confi- site was discovered accidentally in 1966

gouge it, the business of architecture has dence in their own standing within nature. during construction at the cliff road to
already begun. That is what all architecture As they moved about in search of tolerable Monte Carlo. It was a stone age camp, used
provides, regardless of its complexity. It climate and food, the special environments for a number of years, it seems, always
marks off one area to distinguish it from they gave shape to were tentative and un- briefly during the late spring. In a cove by
others. It raises solid masses that blot out obtrusive, an architecture of shelter con- the beach, traces of some twenty huts were
as much space as their bulk. And it rears tained in the pleats of the earth. found, often disposed on top of one an-
about our heads barriers, to contain shel- The most part, was there
shelter, for the other
on a sandbar, on the beach itself,
tered space. ready to be used, in the caves that had to and on a dune. They were oval in shape and
The last of these is the easiest to see. We be wrested from savage predators such as measured about 8 to 15 meters (25 to 50
are accustomed to thinking of architecture bears, lions, and the giant hyena. We have feet) in length and 4 to 6 meters (13 to 20
as shelter: a home to live in ("a roof over proof, however, of huts in the open, like feet) in width. Small bands of about fifteen
our heads," as we and shops
say), offices the ones at the encampment of Terra Amata, persons built and occupied them for lim-
to work in, cool places of worship to step near Nice in southern France, dating back ited hunting forays; the huts then were left
into from the crowded streets of a hot day. to about 400,000 years ago. (Figs. 2.1, 2.2) to collapse and new huts put up over them,
The sense of refuge is instinctive. It seems But whether shelter was natural or manu- or else nearby, by next year's party.
natural to build to attain it. factured, the inhabitants transformed it into The huts were made of branches or sap-
But architecture is more than protective architecture through purposeful use. They lings set close together in the sand as a

21
^'-s-, ^ Carnac
^Locmariaquer "i

Fig. 2.1 Map: Western Europe, showing Stone Age


sites.

22
THE CAVE AND THE SKY: STONE AGE EUROPE

where a single battered skullwas stood in


a trench along the farthest wall, with stones
arranged around it in an oval ring. At La
Chapelle-aux-Saints in the Dordogne re-
gion of southwestern France, a burial had
taken place. The dead man had been laid
out in a shallow grave filled with tools and
animal bones. On his chest a bison leg had
been deliberately placed, perhaps as pro-
vision for the world hehad slipped into.
Sometime fairly late during this long
search for elemental beliefs, the hunters
started using art as a tool of expression. It

appears likely that, for the communities that


produced the splendid cave murals, en-
gravings, and sculpture, the image did more
than stand for what it depicted. Art too was
reality, it differed from the physical world
in that it was free of erratic movement and

the biological dictates of growth and death.


The mammoth or woolly rhinoceros, fixed
to the wall by the artist in a mixture of
Fig. 2.2 Terra Amata (France), prehistoric hut, ca. ground mineral earths and charcoal com-
400,000 B.C.; reconstruction drawing. pressed into bone tubes, stayed there, the
sure target of the disabling spear. These
images of magic compulsion, if such they
were, reinforced the strange power of the
palisade, then braced on the outside by a phisticated as the millennia went by. Dur- cult and quickened its sense of mystery. As
ring of large stones. Within, the long axis ing the lifespan of the Neanderthals be- ritual use had transformed caves into reli-
was lined with larger posts to help hold up tween 40,000 and 100,000 years ago, and of gious architecture, so art now made tangi-
the roof just how we do not know. We do their successors the Cro-Magnon people, ble a range of meaning in these hidden
know something about building tools gen- stone tools noticeably improved and now sanctuaries of the earth.
erally. The digging was probably done with included cutting knives, sharp and easy to
fire-hardened wooden spears; the pruning grasp. The frame of the huts was sealed
and trimming, with hand axes made of against the draft by an exterior sheathing of
The Cave at Lascaux
pieces of flint or limestone. animal skins. At the same time, the hunt-
What is significant is the way in which the ers' dealings with nature became formal- We can see all this in the celebrated cave
hunters made use of the enclosed space. ized into what can only be seen as reli- at Lascaux. Itwas discovered on a Septem-
The hearth was in the middle, protected gious observances. What might have been ber day in 1940 by five boys from Monti-
from the prevailing northwest wind by a rites to ensure the hunters' quarry left their gnac out rabbit hunting in the woods
screen of pebbles. The immediate area mark here and there for us to puzzle over.
nearby the latest and most remarkable of
around it was free of litter, indicating that But the hunters were concerned too with a group of painted sanctuaries that have
there the band must have slept. Further out their own related destiny. It was not only come to light in the southwest of Europe
from this social focus of the hut there were surviving day after day that mattered. Death since the early nineteenth century. They had
work spaces and, in one case, a kind of was mysterious and frightening and might been created toward the end of the last
kitchen, to judge from the large smooth not constitute the end. glacial period. Europe at that time, about
stone that was marked by tiny scratches, These anxious thoughts, and the cults that 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, had roughly the
most resulting from the cutting of
likely grew up to appease them, complicated the same Mediterranean coastline, but the great
meat. In another hut, fossilized human ex- concept of architecture. The role of the Scandinavian ice sheet reached out to cover
crement indicates a toilet area. shelter was pushed beyond mere housing. most of Ireland, all of Scotland, and the
The cave became a sanctuary. At its mouth Baltic. There were smaller glaciers in the

the hunter might still live, but the dark in- Alps and the Pyrenees. Hunters followed in
ner recesses came to be reserved for cer- the wake of the herds, across the bitterly
Old Stone Age Architecture
emonies of life and death and afterlife. The cold steppes of central Europe and into the
Both building technology and the ritual use cave at Monte Circeo, a limestone hill south milder climate of present-day France and
of architecture became increasingly so- of Rome, contained a unicpje chamber Spain. They brought with them an extraor-

23
A PLACE ON EARTH

dinary and put it at the service


gift for art were scrupulously respected and the art- i-^-'F

of a faith that centered on the animal. ists skillfully set out to complement the pe-
The animal, in the hunter's view of the culiar properties of the cave.
world, must have appeared strong and in- At Lascaux, not only were numerous
dependent. (Fig. 2.3) The hunter was the hands busy working on the cave walls, the
dependent and weak one, moving about extensive overlapping of images and the
after his prey
the reindeer and bison, the uncertain limits of the cave imply too that

deer and the horse in the hope of luring the sanctuary was never conceived as a fin-
and killing it. The act itself was paradoxi- ished thing. We may be dealing with many
cal. The animal must be killed to support generations of hunters, each. adding its own
the hunter. It was the great adversary, imprint to the existing design. Both in the
deadly in attack and life-sustaining in death. making and the presumed benefit of this
The hunter must prevail; but his success, magical environment, the cave at Lascaux
he knew, would be bound up with defeat. was a community project; and in "com-
For the more animals he managed to kill, munity" the present merged with the fu-
the fewer of them there were left to kill; ture and the past.
and therefore the magic that secured the fall We enter the cave now, as perhaps one
of the quarry must also advance its abun- did then, through a hole that was the re-
dance. And so, in these deep caves of sult of the collapse of a bit of the lime-
France and Spain, the hunter painted the stone rock forming the roof of the cave.
animal truthfully, in the context of this par- (Fig. 2.5) About 20 meters (65 feet) in, the

adox of life and death, of fertility and ex- path constricts to half its total width, and
tinction. Plentiful game was the boon of then opens up dramatically into an oval
fertile nature, whom hunter repre-
the room, the so-called Hall of the Bulls. A dark
sented in sculpture as an ample female fig- ledge here and throughout the cave sepa-
ure with giant breasts and hips, and com- rates the lower walls from an upper level,
forting recesses like the cave-shelters of the which includes the ceiling, and is covered Fig. 2.3 Lascaux (France), prehistoric cave, ca.
earth. her hand this mother goddess
In by a thin coat of calcite on which the paint 10,000 B.C.; interior detail, Axial Gallery.
sometimes holds a horn, the instrument was applied. There was no painting below
through which the beast's force is ex- the ledge.
pelled. (Fig. 2.4) The far end of the Hall is taken up by a
Fig. 2.4 Laussel (France), prehistoric rock-cut re-
This sort of reasoning, we think, must frieze of four immense bulls in thick black
lief, the "Venus of Laussel," ca. 18,000 B.C.; as it
have motivated the makers and users of outline.Three are in Indian file; the fourth
would have been seen in its original location.
caves like Lascaux. The paintings convey, faces them, its huge horns extended across (Musee de I'Homme, Paris)
across millennia, a striking sense for the empty space. (Fig. 2.6) The space, in fact,

build and habits of the animals repre- isnot altogether empty. Here and all along
sented. The attitude toward them seems the remaining walls of the rotunda there is
reverent. According to one school of a seemingly random arrangement of smaller
thought, the caves are sacred repositories animals horses, deer, and bears. But the
of animal spirit, and the hunter's guarantee confusion is only apparent. It is true that the
of participating in the special power of the composition of the walls avoids a single fa-
animal. The painted image is hope and ex- vored focus, and no strict picture frames
piation in
one the hope of drawing the delineate groupings of images. But there are
animal to the kill, and expiation for having accents we can detect and visual correspon-
to kill it. Weapons themselves were often dences even where paintings have been
carved into animal forms, and men danced superimposed on others of different date.
in animal masks. At some time, the very The line of the Hall breaks at two points.
eating of the animal came to be a sacra- The first opening, more or less on axis with
ment. the entrance, leads into a long gallery that
The artists exploited the natural architec- ends in an undecorated tunnel. The floor
ture of each cave and conjured an insepa- of this so-called Axial Gallery slopes sharply
rable whole between this and their own downward. At one particularly narrow point,
images. There was no attempt to change the a cow of slender build straddles the curved
given configuration, by dropping the floor end, just
ceiling. (Fig. 2.7) At the farthest
level, for example, or expanding narrow before entering the tunnel, a large painted
passages. On the contrary, the difficulties panel shows three horses, one of them

24
THE CAVE AND THE SKY: STONE AGE EUROPE

Stumbling over backwards, all four legs in


the air. The turn into the tunnel and the

exaggerated height of the Gallery at this


point heighten the effect of the fall.
The second opening leads to the Lateral
Passage. At its farthest end the cave forks.

One branch opens out into a vast new gal-


lery, sometimes called the Nave, with a high

vaultlike ceiling and a floor that slopes


sharply downward toward the back. The
animals along the walls have darts depicted
on their bodies, but there is no sign of
physical pain or collapse. The dramatic skill
of the artist and his intimate appreciation
of the cave's quirks show to good effect in
one corner, toward the Lateral Passage,
where a single file of heads of deer in pro-
file is painted just above the ledge. The

protrusion of this dark ledge has been


worked into the composition. It reads like
a body of water through which the beauti-
fully drawn herd is swimming, antlered
heads lifted against the current. (Fig. 2.8)

The place of honor belongs to the Shaft


of the Dead Man. It lies in the second
branch of the Lateral Passage. We come in
out of the Passage and into a pouch of the
cave called the Apse whose walls are worn
through heavy use and marked in every di-
rection. There is a- smooth stone at the far
end; it forms a lip over a yawning hole,
crowned by a small dome. (Fig. 2.9) The
bottom of the hole, about 6 meters (20 feet)
below the floor of the Apse, must have been
reached by means of ropes. The shaft that
leads down is too steep to negotiate un-
aided.
Here, immediately at the base of the shaft,
in a small irregular room, there is a paint-
ing, the strangest and most affecting of all

at Lascaux. (Fig. 2.10) This classic confron-


tation of man and beast seems to sum up
the world view of the prehistoric nomad
hunter. The beast is a big wounded bison.
The spear is lodged in its strong body; its

entrails are coming out. The hunter re-


sponsible is himself fatally hurt. He has
fallen backwards, gored by the dread horns.
He is a small stick figure with a bird's head.
Next to him on the ground lie a bird-headed
staffand a spear thrower that looks like the
ancient Mexican atlatl. The hunter, clearly,
is the loser in the confrontation. There is

nothing pathetic about the beast, which


Fig. 2.5 Lascaux cave: top (a-b), sections; bot-
stands proud and triumphant over him even
tom, plan.
at the point of death.

25

"* T-
A PLACE ON EARTH

New Stone Age Architecture


About the time when Old Stone Age hunt-
ers were working on the sanctuary at Las-
caux, Europe was going through another of
the violent changes of climate that had
characterized life on the earth since the
beginning. It was now a turn of mild
weather, a period of warmth that melted the
great ice sheets and transformed the Euro-
pean scene of grass- and shrub-covered
tundra into stretches of lush forest. The
benign climate eased the burden of sur-
vival. The hunter slowed down. In many
places on the planet, Europe and the Near
East among them, he settled and turned to
farming and animal husbandry.
It sounds almost too simple in the tell-

ing, but what happened was a profound


readjustment of humans to nature, and the
causes were complicated. To begin with,
there were demographic pressures. A
swelling population demanded more food
than could be secured through hunting and
gathering. This meant food production on
a systematic basis. To be successful, food
production depended on a number of con- Fig. 2.6 Lascaux cave, Hall of Bulls.
ditions: a settledlife, appropriate plant and

animal resources, and a technology suit-


able to the task at hand. Where these con-
ditions prevailed, the new pattern of exis-
tence took root. Historians refer to it as the
New Stone, or Neolithic, Age. and reaped and sowed again; the rains ture as boundary, monuments too made
A fixed place
under the sky that is the came and the cold and then it was warm their appearance. Stones were raised up-
Neolithic legacy. The hunter had thought again and bright and things pushed out of right to mark the open land. (Fig. 2.11)
of himself as insignificant in the face of the the damp earth and grew, and then once Planted deep in the earth like artificial trees,

universal and mystery-filled presence of more there came the rains and the cold. these tall shafts became signposts of per-
nature. He was caught up in the flux and Eyes turned upward to the source of mois- manence, of civilized life. Architecturally,
flow of life, moving with the herds, court- ture and heat. The stars and the moon had the cave had been shelter, enclosure,
ing them, slaying the beasts reverently, and patterns that could be recognized and cosmic womb. Now the stone pillars looked
devising magic rituals to ensure their con- foreseen. Life was stable. In the commu- up, beyond the elemental comfort of the
tinued abundance. Comfort lay in the nity each man and woman knew what was earth, toward the sky and its knowing pat-
depths of the earth. Here, in obscure and expected of him or her, as the community terns of themoon and stars.
womblike caves, the only ray of security in itself had a sense of its specific place in the The giant stones or megaliths, so hard to
his unpredictable and perilous life was bigger scheme of things. move and stand up and so striking on the
elaborately enshrined. Not security for in- Architecture, as we would expect, re- edge of the countryside beyond the farms,
dividuals, or even for single generations, but sponded to this basic change in social be- must have been proud symbols of com-
a kind of timeless unfocused faith in ani- havior. The concept of shelter, whether as munity. They spoke of an advanced tech-
mal spirit, the life-enhancing source. habitation or sanctuary, persisted of course. nology and of group effort. Moreover, they
But the Neolithic revolution shattered this But what was revolutionary in general atti- served to focus divinity. Like lightning rods,
world view, and forged fresh confidence in tude was the readiness to rearrange na- these markers raised toward the sky brought
our ability to tame nature for our own ben- ture. Farmland began to be divided into in- down on them the sway of deities. We are
efit. Humans learned to master the land and dividual fields; settlements were similarly reminded of Jacob setting up his stone as
the horned beast. The land was marked and circumscribed, if not by walls at least by a apermanent Beth El, or house of God.
tilled, the beast domesticated. There was a simple cattle stockade; sacred ground was And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took
new consciousness of the cycles of nature, distinguished from that of daily life. In ad- the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set
which is to say of time. The farmer sowed dition to this greening interest in architec- it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of

26

^^^*
THE CAVE AND THE SKY: STONE AGE EUROPE

it . And Jacob vowed a vow, saying "If Cod


. .

will be with me, and will keep me in this way that


I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment
to put on then shall the Lord be my God:
. . .

and this stone, which have set for a pillar, shall


I

be God's house. (Genesis 28: 18-22)

Singly or in various combinations, thou-


sands of stone structures were erected
throughout Western Europe in the last five
millennia before Christ. The megaliths were
strewn about in great numbers on the
postglacial landscape, along with other de-
bris released by the thawing ice sheets. They
could be used on the spot. But the monu-
ment builders were not limited to these
loose bones of nature. Stone was also la-
boriously quarried from live rock and
sometimes hauled from great distances, by
land and by water. The heroic feat was its
own reward. It was the utmost the com-
munity could do to provide for the sacred.

The Houses
The story of each Neolithic community no
doubt began with the search for land suit-
able for farming and the sustenance of do-
mesticated herds. Often a cultivable patch
had to be cleared in the thick of the forest
by felling or burning trees. The community
would proceed immediately to give itself
living quarters and parcel out the farm-
land.
The settlers normally lived in small indi-
vidual houses of timber and mud. The tim-
ber posts stood in holes dug in the ground
and were braced at the top by the roof
beams. Boughs were woven through the
posts to complete the walls of the house,
and the gaps were filled in with mud. The
roof was pitched to shed rain and snow, and
was covered with thatch or turf. Neolithic
villagers along Swiss lakes built their houses
on piles, to protect them from sudden
floods.
But multiple units of housing were not
unknown. Especially in the north, strongly
built wooden houses as much as 80 meters
Fig. 2.7 Lascaux cave, Axial Gallery. (260 feet) long accommodated a number of
families, or one extended family, under the
same roof. (Fig. 2.12) The hearth was in the

middle of the long central space, with a


corresponding lantern or louvre cut in the
roof overhead to admit light and vent
smoke. The aisles on either side of this
space were divided into bays and sheltered
the animals.

27

L
Fig. 2.8 Lascaux cave, Swimming Deer; a detail
of the wall paintings in the Nave.

Fig. 2.9 Lascaux cave, Shaft of Dead Man (7 on Fig. 2.10 Lascaux cave, Shaft of Dead Man; de-
Fig. 2.5); section. tail.

M O 10

28

:^1..-'-
:. ':.\\r-A

f;<r''<'-f

Fig. 2.12 Sittard (Netherlands), prehistoric settle- plan showing the post holes and trenches of
ment, fifth millennium B.C.; detail of excavation timber-built long houses.

Fig. 2.11 Carnac (France), menhir. '^^ *


%^-^>.
i*::!?
.N.-V;\

.a- .-rSt
s;,;:?
J/:-' i'B if

#^*: w^. .-;>%


%.'
-s-

^ V* .- V
'Q.6. -vC.

y J- /X'%
* X ::.,

. v\ Sf.'..'
../-vt

F O 10 50 lOO 150
I

M O 5 10 25 5C

29
A PLACE ON EARTH

One instance of multiple housing is Menhirs were objects in mid-space; their The stone avenues at Carnac with their
unique. In the prehistoric village of Skara height and mass made them visible from a circle are the builtexpression of these two
Brae, on a small island off the northern distance and encouraged movement to- architectural possibilities, the directional
coast of Scotland, ten small stone houses ward them. In this sense they can be char- and the rotational, inherent in the setting
linked up by stone alleys form a compact acterized as directional foci and, as such, up of a menhir. Alignments and circles,
organism. Each house has a sin-
(Fig. 2.13) they represent our first instance of a prin- then, outline what is implied. They are ex-
gle room with rounded corners. The stone ciple of organizing space which we will en- amples of architecture as boundary in that
is native, and the builders availed them- counter in future chapters under many they define spatial organization without fully
selves of it for everything, including furni- guises. enclosing the spatial forms in question.
ture. The roofs were probably made of an- At the same time, menhirs are also rofa- But there is more to them than bound-
imal skins laid on whalebone rafters. tional foci. Their form, favoring no one as- ary. The large strung stones aggrandize the
pect over others, invites us to move around act of circumscribing. They make of the
The Monuments them. This too is a principle of spatial or- boundary a monument. In other words,
If society in these early villages of farmers ganization. Its object is to give people a they confound, or rather combine, two of
and herders had developed a class struc- reference point as they move about an open the three classes of architecture with which
ture, it left no trace in the pattern of their space. The central monuments of our city this chapter began. We can call the align-
dwellings. Larger houses were not built for
squares fountains, statues, single com- ments of Carnac "monumentalized bound-
favored people, nothing to call a mansion
memorative columns exemplify the same aries," or perhaps even "linear monu-
or a palace. But life may not have been en- principle. ments." They afford an intermediate
tirely egalitarian. Social distinction seems
implied in the fact that monumental tombs
honored the remains of some mortals only
and not others.
The common dead were disposed of by
burning the bodies or simply leaving them Fig. 2.13 Skara Brae (Scotland), settlement, third

on the ground to rot. The burial proper millennium B.C.; plan

might have taken place in shallow graves,


in natural caves, or in long unchambered

mounds called barrows. In Malta, the ex-


traordinary rock-cut labyrinth of Hal Saf- 3^^sN^LL_^
lieni at the top of a hill has tomb chambers
arranged on three separate levels for about
7,000 dead. But a privileged few merited
lying in state in impressive stone tombs
carved with enigmatic designs. With them

were buried artifacts daggers and axes,
vessels of various sizes and shapes, both
pottery and stone, and personal ornaments
in precious materials like gold.

But upended stones, or menhirs, were the


simplest form of megalithic monument. The
tallest among them, the so-called Grand
Menhir Brise at Locmariaquer in Brittany,
once stood up to a height of 21 meters (67
feet) and weighed an estimated 330 tons.
Near the town of Carnac, at the northwest-
ern tip of France, more than 3,000 mega-
liths of local granite line up for several miles
in ten to thirteen rows that run east by
northeast toward a circle; before reaching
the circle they change their angle of direc-
tion. (Fig. 2.14) Alignments such as this and
circles are two standard compositions for
the great megaliths of Europe.
Menhirs, alignments, and circles, unlike
tombs, were not intended to enclose space.

30

TTTTl
THE CAVE AND THE SKY: STONE AGE EUROPE

architectural experience between


open-
ness and enclosure, between boundless
space and a wall. It is an important experi-
ence in much of the built environment we
will be studying. We might want to think of

the stone avenues of Carnac as the con-


ceptual ancestor of the Classical colon-
nade. (Fig. 12.22b)

The Tombs
In contrast to the menhirs and their group-
ings, Neolithic stone tombs were designed
as closed spaces. The basic form, but not
the commonest, is a simple boxlike cham-
ber made up of several upright slabs for
walling, with a more or less flat stone on
top. (Fig. 2.15) The term dolmen should
probably be restricted to this type. The
other two generally recognized types are
more elaborate. The so-called Gallery Grave
is a stone corridor closed off by a number

of capstones laid in a row. (Fig. 2.16) The


bodies were buried along the walls which
sometimes converged toward one end in
the form of a V. The Passage Grave is sim-
ilar, but the corridor here culminates usu-

ally in a rounded chamber. Its walls


burial
are made of boulders piled up in irregular
courses, a technique called cyclopean ma-
sonry. As the structure rises beyond a cer-
tain height, successive courses are made to
project inward, narrowing the circumfer-
ence of the chamber until the space is to-
tally sealed off. This is called corbelling. (Fig.
2.17)
Everything else in the construction of the
tombs depends on the balancing of large
slabs
vertical slabs set on end for the walls
and horizontal ones that bridge them across
space. The differences between this meg-
alithic technique and cyclopean masonry are
evident. The latter relies on the cohesion
of many boulders of varying size; it builds
by accumulation, and through the careful
fitting of the boulders the mason can bring
about a fairly tight fabric. Megalithic ma-
sonry works with far fewer and larger units.
The principle is not unlike building a house
Fig. 2.14 Carnac, stone alignments, third millen- of cards, but each "card" weighs tons and
nium B.C.; aerial view. the lifting and balancing of it demand mas-
sive effort and precise know-how. More-
over, since the fitting of such huge slabs is

itself formidable without laborious shaping

and dressing, the structure has an uneven


mesh, with chinks among the upright slabs
and capstones tilting at rakish angles. The

31

A PLACE ON EARTH

Fig.2.15 Locmariaquer (France), dolmen, third Fig. 2.16 Esse (France), gallery grave, third mil
millennium B.C. lennium B.C.; interior view.

capstones are allowed a generous over- tombs help us to see withknowing eyes the
hang beyond the edges of the walling. bold chapel at Ronchamp, this strong
But in most cases, if not always, the statement of form by an established mod-
completed tombs would have been sub- ern master, unconventional and even jar-

merged under artificial mounds. They mat- ring for its time, in turn awakens us to the Fig. 2.17 New Grange (Ireland), passage grave.
third millennium B.C.; interior, view into cor-
tered, in the main, as interior spaces, strength of "primitive" architecture such as
belled vault.
houses of stone for the special dead in the that made by our prehistoric ancestors. In
ancient embrace of the earth. Exposed, to- a parallel way, the formal experiments in the
day, they seem to have risen with awkward early work of Picasso and Braque seized on
courage out of the soil and steadied them- the aesthetic provocation of primitive art
selves ponderously. In their stark abstrac- and through this common language of form flatland north of Salisbury, charts the heav-
tion, they remind us of the primary urge in taught us to see and value alien things like ens.
all architecture, the struggle to stand up the masks of Africa and Archaic Creek The complex at Cgantija, or "Tower of the
against the pull of gravity. Architecture as sculpture. Ciants," is not unique. (Figs. 2.18, 2.19) It

shelter must encapsulate space in two sen- is one of a number of prehistoric temple
ses, laterally and in height. The medium of structures peculiar to the Maltese islands.
one is the wall, and the wall is the prereq- They were built of local stone, using a mix-
The Temples of Malta
uisite for the medium of vertical confine- ture of megalithic and cyclopean tech-
ment, the ceiling. The ceiling must be held To conclude our discussion of Stone Age niques, between the early part of the third
aloft in defiance of the force of gravity. The Europe, let us look at two roughly contem- millennium b.c. and the early second. Their
heavier the ceiling is, the sturdier the walls porary buildings, one on the small island of massive walls consist of a double shell filled
must be. Stability in architecture resides in Gozo near Malta and the other in the Wilt- with earth and rubble. The exterior shell
the studied equilibrium of load and sup- shire downs of southern England. They are uses coralline, a hard limestone that can
port. And the accidental drama of mega- both sanctuaries. Each one took a long time withstand weathering. In the hills, coral-
lithic tombsas they stand denuded in the to build because the builders, not content line fissures both horizontally and verti-
landscape illustrates stability on the verge with their initial vision, re-formed and am- cally, supplying natural building blocks
of being upset. We have a foretaste here of plified it repeatedly. Taken together, the two slabs as well as boulders. The larger pieces
a standard privilege in architecture, the ex- sanctuaries illustrate the range of religious among them were brought to the site on
altation of necessary relationships. That is expression Europe by the late third mil-
in rollers,probably spherical balls of lime-
why Le Corbusier's chapel at Ronchamp is lennium B.C. They typify the complemen- stone. No attempt was made to dress the
a worthy modern successor to a dolmen. tary impulses of Neolithic communities: rough-hewn blocks before they were set up.
(Fig. 28.16) Both gestures of stone cele- reverence for the cave and its ancestral It is clear that the exterior was considered

brate the act, if not the joy, of lifting. memories on the one hand, and the new- incidental to the central concern of the
Le Corbusier must have known at first found order of the sky on the other. The temple; it was merely a stout curtain that
hand the megalithic tombs of France. They double temple at Cgantija speaks elo- wrapped itself around the sanctuary with-
were real to him as he saw them, deprived quently of "chthonic" matters the earth out suggesting much of its inner organiza-
of their blanket of earth and battered by and its mysteries, the dead and the ap- tion.
time. The inspiration was direct. But if the peasement they require. Stonehenge, in the The experience of the temple was con-

32

rrn
F O 10 50 lOO 150

M O 10 25 50
Fig. 2.18 Cgantija (Malta), temple complex, third ple; (B) phase two of large temple, with added smaller temple added to the original core; (D)
millennium B.C.; conjectural stages of develop- pair of curved chambers toward the east; (C) the final plan with circular forecourt.
ment: (A) beginning phase, large southern tem-

33
F 10 25 50 75

M O 10 25

Fig. 2.19a Ggantija, interior, oblique view; re-


construction drawing.

34

. I 1'^ I
THE CAVE AND THE SKY: STONE AGE EUROPE

is nothing mechan-
For, of course, there
ical or about building types. Their
stifling
"invention" is neither precipitous nor fi-
nal. The full form comes about through long

experimentation and continues beyond that


to be refined, modified, or even purposely
perverted. But it remains the basic outline
against which the architect works; and
being a constant, deviations from it can be
judged readily and can become especially
meaningful. By reinterpreting the form of
the building type one can make a state-
ment about the cultural content with which
it is identified.
The cultural content of the Maltese tem-
ple as a building type includes the cave of
the Old Stone Age hunter. The inwardness
of Cgantija, with its staged sequence of

constrictions and spatial releases, recalls the


passage through Lascaux. The inner shape
itself, a double set of curved receptacles,

stands as the architectural metaphor for the


obese mother goddess of the caves. This
lady of fertility continues to be repre-
sented in sculpture, as a standard cult im-
age of the Maltese temple. And the horned
beast is there, too, again both literally and
metaphorically. Animal sacrifice was a main
observance of the local cult: remains within
Fig. 2.19b Cgantija, larger temple, southern apse the temples and the choice of animals as a
of west trefoil: interior view. (Cf. Fig. 2.18, D.) subject of temple art testify to that. But,
abstractly, the crescentlike facades in front
of the double temple at Cgantija suggest
great horn gates, a hint strengthened by
physical evidence from the larger temple to
centrated on an enclosed space furnished are, therefore, in one sense, as many dif- the south, where below the threshhold slab
and decorated in accordance with the needs ferent types of Old Stone Age sanctuaries were found
the horns of a sacrificial bovid
of an intricate cult. Here the coralline shell as there are painted caves. along with potsherds and an offering bowl.
was carefully dressed with stone mallets and Cgantija is wholly manmade form,
a The other major ingredient in the cul-
picks of horn or antler tines. The surface which is to say thought out and repro-
it is turalcontent of Cgantija is the Neolithic
was then finished laboriously by means of duceable. As such, it is the first true build- tomb, and specifically the native rock-cut
small flint blades. Clobigerina, a soft warm ing type we are encountering. A building graves for collective burial, like the cata-
limestone deep yellow in color, was used type is an architectural form that is in- comb of Hal Saflieni. At that catacomb the
for the permanent fittings. vented for a specific purpose and achieves simplest unit was a kidney-shaped cham-
In some ways the Cgantija complex re- a general validity, both visual and ritual, ber, sometimes subdivided by rock parti-
enacts Paleolithic cave sanctuaries. From an through its repeated use. The ziggurat is a tions, sometimes joined with others via
architectural standpoint, however, there is building type, and so are the pyramids of corridors. These hollowed out pouches
one notable difference. Lascaux was a nat- Egypt, the Classical temple, the baptistery, undoubtedly inspired the paired curves of
ural form, humanized by the art and ritual the Renaissance palace, the skyscraper, and Cgantija and its relatives, and did so for a
of its bands of hunters. The sequence of the railroad station. The list is really rela- good reason. At some early point it seems
chambers was predetermined and could tively small.Although creativity for some likely that the two functions, the burial of
only be interpreted through the gift of the people implies the freedom to invent forms, ancestors and the propitiation of their spir-
artist. This was true of each one of the history recognizes a stricter economy of its, were housed in the same architectural

painted caves. They were accepted as they basic forms and, within these limits, a much envelope. Elsewhere in prehistoric Europe
were found, and then defined ritually. There subtler definition of creative design. the separation did not come about; the rites

35
A PLACE ON EARTH

of the dead were celebrated in front of the


tomb was submerged by the
since the rest
burial mound. But at Malta a distinct build-
ing type, linked in form to the collective
tombs original to the island, absorbed the
ritual functions of the ancestor cult, to-
gether with related practices, and became
a specialized house of worship. (Fig. 2.18)
The Ggantija complex consists of two
separate temples of different date en-
closed by a continuous outer wall. The
larger temple to the south is the earlier, and
even that is probably not all of one piece.
The west trefoil seems to have come first.
This clover-leaf scheme, closely resem-
bling rock-cut tomb formations, must have
been the opening stage in the creation of
the Maltese temple as a building type. The
eastern pair of curved chambers seems to
have been an afterthought. When it was
added to the initial trefoil, perhaps to ac-
commodate an enlarged repertory of reli-

gious practices or bigger crowds of wor-


shippers, the building type assumed this
new configuration for its standard design.
Two further changes of consequence took
place before the mature temple form was
complete; both are illustrated by the smaller
temple of Ggantija erected toward the
north. First, in terms of size, the order of
the two sets of curves was reversed, with
the outer set now being the wider. Sec-
ond, the culminating apse of the trefoil was
reduced to a shallow niche in which, at later
sites, a single pillar would be enshrined.
The site is a hillside. The temples face
Fig. 2.20 Salisbury (England), Stonehenge, ca.
downhill. Before their two monumental
2750-1500 B.C.; aerial view.
entrances, the "gates of horn," a circular
platform of stone was laid out at some point
as a common forecourt, braced by a retain-
ing wall to avoid slippage. Each temple is

composed of a long axis, running from the


entrance to the back niche and flanked by chamber, circle of stones must have
a between wall and ceiling since the transi-
two pairs of curved chambers of different served as a ceremonial hearth. tion from one to another is a curve. The ef-
size. The axis is not of uniform width. Be- Whatever the units of composition, the fect is akin to one special feature of Neo-
tween pairs of chambers, it acts as a small prevailing sense of Ggantija is one of deep lithic tombs, the round burial chamber at
court, space distinguished from those of
its containment. It is the natural quality of the end of a Passage Grave. (Fig. 2.17)
the chambers by parapets of globigerina. curved interior shapes to envelop us to- Actually, the curved shapes in Maltese
The narrow points of passage have slabs of tally. In this, Ggantija as an architecture of temples hold a place midway between the
fine workmanship and on either side of the shelter contrasts with the Gallery Grave as flat-roofed tunnels of megalithic tombs and
one from the entrance two dol-
farthest shelter. (Figs. 2.19a, 2.16) There the ceiling the round chambers of Passage Graves with
menlike altars are set up. Beyond this point, is and the juncture with the walls is
flat their corbelled vaults. The spans at Malta are
the south temple picks up a cross-axis. The made The space is crisp and
at right angles. too wide for complete corbelling. The walls
curved end of one of the lateral chambers boxlike. The experience of Ggantija, a are projected inward at the top, but only up
is fitted with altarlike slabs and, across the folding space that engulfs the user, is dif- to a certain point; beyond this the gap was
court, at the entrance to the opposite ferent. There is here no strict distinction bridged, we think, with flat slabs. And since

36

^vx^*"
THE CAVE AND THE SKY: STONE AGE EUROPE

an 8-foot span is the maximum opening a tive portraiture of hurt or distorted human traterrestrial intentions. Their involvement
single slab can bridge without the aid of images. And the earth comforted and healed was with the sun and the moon; their aim,
central supports below, of which there is no them until, all of a sudden, about 2000 B.C., not to communicate with powers of the
trace, it is very likely that the culminating the devout culture of Malta was rudely dis- underworld, but to recognize and cele-
portions of the ceilings were fashioned of rupted by invaders, and the temples were brate heavenly events. Or so at least many
wood. abandoned to their ruin. scholars believe.
In these deep sanctuaries of Malta, a The final design of Stonehenge is frankly
brilliant Neolithic people carried on its sa- singular. Yet the great horseshoe in the
cred rites of pacifying the dead and assur- middle was not always there, and the stones
Stonehenge
ing fertility. The details escape us, but rams that now circumscribe it were not always so
and pigs were slaughtered for the gods and Stonehenge, the most famous of Neolithic disposed. And there was a time at the be-
libations were poured into holes that monuments, is a temple to a different faith. ginning when there were no central stones
maintained contact with the underworld. (Fig. 2.20) The haunting circle in the chalk at all but only the earth embankment in the

Here, too, oracles may have been spoken uplands of southern England is not alto- midst of the chalk plain of Wiltshire, in
to through tiny windows in otherwise sealed gether free of the dead. The so-called Au- these various guises, Stonehenge inter-
rooms that kept out the profane. The sick brey holes just within the bounding earth- locks with a number of neighboring struc-
and the crippled came to sleep in the won- work hold proof of cremation burials, for tures. (Fig. 2.21) There are, first, the large
der-working embrace of the temple, in the example. But this was probably a secon- earth circles like the one
Windmill Hill,
at
hope of being made whole: we have out- dary function. The early Britons who built their circular ditches interrupted by fre-
ward signs of their faith in the sculptured and rebuilt Stonehenge over a time span of quent causeways. Were these stockaded
figurines of reclining women and the vo- one thousand years had, from the start, ex- cattle pounds, or were they, as their stra-

Fig. 2.21 Map: Southern England, with inset of


Stonehenge vicinity.

2 4 KILOMETERS

37

A PLACE ON EARTH

tegic sites would suggest, temporary gath- chalk palisade that describe a rectangle were tilted with prodigious effort into a ring
ering places for nomadic tribes of herds- perpendicular to the axis of the midsum- of pits, straightened, and stabilized. To
men in times of general celebration? At any mer sunrise, and the ring of 56 Aubrey consolidate the sarsen circle at the top,
rate, they are older than Stonehenge-^the holes, already mentioned, that may have curved lintels were placed over each pair of
in England. Then
oldest surviving structures been meant to hold uprights but were filled uprights, cut and fitted together so that they
there are circlesmarked by uprights: either up again soon after being dug. The date of would form an crown about 6 me-
integral
stones, as at Avebury 27 kilometers (17 this first scheme, known as Stonehenge I, ground. The design was
ters (20 feet) off the
miles) north of Stonehenge, with two huge is now thought to be around 2750 b.c. completed by a sarsen horseshoe inscribed
interrelated circles; or else wooden posts, Then, perhaps several centuries later, the within, composed of five separate trili-
as at Woodhenge, about 3 ki-
closer still, sacred site became the scene of an ambi-
thons that is, groupings of three slabs, two
lometers northeast. Over 900 stone circles tious new building campaign Stonehenge upright ones and the crosspiece that bridges
are known today all across the British Isles II. Pairs of chalk banks, like
those of the them. The horseshoe opened up toward the
in northeast Scotland and Ulster, in Corn- defined an 8-meter (35-foot) wide
circle, avenue and the sacred path of the mid-
wall and Wales. avenue along the crucial northeast axis. It summer sunrise. (Fig. 2.22, C)
At Stonehenge, the first stage of building ran on straight for a while, and then curved The sarsen circle and horseshoe of
produced the earth circle, 97.50 meters (320 right to reach the river Avon a short dis- Stonehenge III are remarkable pieces of
feet) in diameter, that remained constant tance away. A narrow embanked enclosure architecture. Monumentalized boundaries
through subsequent rebuildings. (Fig.
all about 3 kilometers (1.75 miles) long to the like the alignments of Carnac differ from
2.22) It must have been described by an north of the sanctuary seems
to belong with them because at Stonehenge the spatial
immense compass, probably a stretch of the avenue. It is known as the Cursus. units were cast into total frames through the
oxhide rope attached to a wooden peg at In the middle of the circle a double ring added definition of the lintels. But the dif-
the circle's center. To mark the circumfer- of bluestones began to be set up, with a ference is more fundamental. For the
ence, a ditch was dug through the solid marked entrance in line with the avenue. builders of Stonehenge III, architecture
chalk, with the usual tools digging sticks, What is remarkable about these bluestones implies a welding together of units that
and shoulder bones of oxen
picks of antler, is not their size, although they weighed up would read as a single sustained artifact. Of
for shovels. The dazzling white earth was to 5 tons each, but where they were brought course, Cgantija and the megalithic tombs,
piled up on two banks. The circle was bro- from. As it happens, this particular rock too, were complicated assemblages of
ken at one place only, in the northeast formation is to be found in one place only stones. But as architecture of shelter, they
quadrant. There, beyond two small up- in all Mountains
of England, the Prescelly molded interior spaces where incidents of
rights that flanked the break in the circle, of Wales. Unless the bluestones were de- detailwere not crucial to the enveloping
a tall pillar, of a distinctive grey sandstone posited in the area by glaciers, the feat was impact of the stone fabric. The stone core
from Marlborough called sarsen, was amazing. The shortest possible route in- of the tombs let stand imperfections of
erected. stood just off the centerline of
It volves a distance of almost 500 kilometers joining. At Cgantija, dressed stones and
the break, next to a wooden gateway of four (300 miles). That would entail hauling the slabs of decoration heightened surface ap-
posts, and it stands there still tilted to one bluestones first Haven in the west
to Milford peal as an applied, rather than inherent,
side. of Wales, then moving them by sea to the effect of the structure.
The point of this arrangement was first mouth of the Bristol Avon and, then, by a The refinements at Stonehenge belong
surmised in the eighteenth century. A per- series of rivers with brief overland hauls in inseparably to the structure. We have here
son standing at the center of the white cir- between, reaching the general area of a skeletal construct, like a stone dance. The
cleon the morning of the summer solstice, Stonehenge. It seems probable that the av- care of the detail is important, not so much
the longest day of the year, and looking in enue of Stonehenge II commemorates the for its own sake, but for the convincing
the direction of this so-called Heel Stone, last stretch of portage. (Fig. 2.21) grace of construct. For ponderous
the
would have seen the sun rise a little to the For the stones were put aside
all this, though the specter of Stonehenge un-
left of imposing mass, on axis with the
its shortly, even before the rings were com- doubtedly is in the openness of Wiltshire
break. must have been a simple but pro-
It plete, for a third rearrangement of the pre- under the vast arc of the sky, the rough-and-
found experience, and it happened in a cinct Stonehenge III. Now sarsen mega- tumble look is tempered intentionally with
simple but bold-spirited setting of bound- liths several times larger than the bluestones sophistication. The sarsen stones, for one

ary architecture a round embankment on were brought from nearby Marlbor-
in

the broad plateau of Salisbury Plain, at the ough, perhaps on a movable track of oak
confluence of many lines of hills along rollers. The naturally irregular blocks had
whose ridgeways the people came for the to be cut first, at their place of origin, to
great day. uniform size, a procedure that may have Fig. 2.22 Stonehenge, plan of four stages of con-
This seems to have been all that was done included alternate heating and cooling to struction; (A) Stonehenge I, ca. 2750 B.C.; (B)

in the opening phase of the monument, split the rock along the desired lines. Stonehenge II, later third millennium B.C.; (C)

Stonehenge III; (D) Stonehenge IV, ca. 1500 B.C.


except for four station stones inside the Within the great chalk circle, the sarsens

38

"s^
/'
r

\ \

I
n

'.
\
\-' /
/"
%.y

o . * .

\
t

5
. \

c \ . ^:- ->" .

or' /
V
^-
(

/
D

F O 50 100 200 300 600

MO 25 50 lOO 200

39

A PLACE ON EARTH

Fig.2.23 Stonehenge, midsummer sunrise over


Heel Stone.

thing, were leveled with heavy stone mauls dished, and the lintels made correspond- set up in front of the horseshoe trilithons,
and smoothed by grinding. Uprights were ingly convex, to avoid slipping. Also, a lit- now were also interposed between the
tapered toward the top, to make them look tle knob of stone was left projecting at the horseshoe and the sarsen circle. Further out
sprightlier under their burden. For similar top of each upright, so that it could be in- beyond the circle, two fresh rings of pits
visual spruceness, each lintel widened out serted into a matching hole in the lintel. This were dug, perhaps for holding stones the
upward and gently curved inward on the too is a familiar system of joining used in so-called Y and Z holes. This last arrange-
two circumferential surfaces. Those lintels cabinetmaking, called mortise-and-tenon ment came about possibly as late as 1500
had to be curved along their entire length, perhaps to recall the wooden prototypes of B.C. (Fig. 2.22, D)
so that, joined tightly together as they are Stonehenge. Was Stonehenge, in these final incarna-
in woodworker's technique known as
a The precinct was reorganized one final tions, solely intent on commemorating
tongue-and-groove, they would produce a time. The bluestones, which were already midsummer's day? In the opinion of sev-
smooth arc both within the circle and with- being moved back into the monument never was. Always, there had
eral scholars, it

out. At the top, the uprights were slightly during the building of Stonehenge III and been broader cosmic implications. To put

40
THE CAVE AND THE SKY: STONE AGE EUROPE

it simply, Stonehenge was an open-air ob- a prosaic program. It is an abstraction in that bration of celestial events and not merely a
servatory where a wide range of astronom- it applies to an activity without reference to method To this end, the
of predicting them.
ical phenomena could be predicted with human involvement. Ritual is the tran- painful sophistication of detail was counte-
marvelous precision. So much so that one scendence of function to the level of a
nanced the stamp on uncouth rock of the
recent student of the monument refers to meaningful acf. civilizing will of humans.

it as "a Neolithic computer." According to It may indeed be true that Stonehenge Stonehenge was a sacred center of com-
this theory, the 56 Aubrey holes may relate was designed to plot and anticipate some munity for the tribes that used it a mon-
to the 56 days' difference between five so- alignments of the sun and the moon. That ument to their social cohesion apparent
lar years and five lunar years; the 59 Y and would be its function. But the meaning of both in their spirit of labor, when they toiled
Z holes, to the 59 days in two lunar months; Stonehenge resides in the ritual. It is this together to set up the megaliths, and dur-
the 19 bluestones within the horseshoe, to that humanizes this calendar of stone and ing their ritual gatherings, when an eclipse
the 19-year cycle of the moon, crucial for earth in the open countryside; it is this that or a spectacular rising of the sun, having
the prediction of eclipses; and so on. explains the prodigies of engineering and been predicted by the priestly powers,

Even were this true and much of it has labor that went into its making. Function did would summon the community to con-

been disputed we must be careful not to not demand the choice of bluestones and verge on the precinct to witness the event
confuse our own modern demands on sci- grey sarsens and their transport from long in unison. (Fig. 2.23) Public architecture at
ence and the more elemental needs of distances away. For the effectiveness of this its best aspires to be just this: a setting for
prehistoric farmers and herders for celes- "Neolithic computer," any convenient ritual that makes of each user, for a brief
tial indicators of the seasons. Furthermore, stones would have been satisfactory. The moment, a larger person than he or she is
we must not confuse function and ritual, as materials and the size of the project were in daily life, filling each one with the pride
we have distinguished these in our intro- urged on these early peoples of the British of belonging.
ductory chapter. Function in architecture is Isles so that the structure could be a cele-

Further Reading

R. |. C. Atkinson, Stonehenge (Harmondsworth and j. McMann, Riddles of the Stone Age: Rock Carvings E. Stover and B. Kraig, Stonehenge: The Indo-
Baltimore: Penguin, 1960). of Ancient Europe (New York: Thames and European Heritage (Chicago: Nelson-Hall,
A. Burl, The Stone Circles of the British Isles (New Hudson, 1980). 1978).
Haven: Yale University Press, 1976). Scientific American, Old World Archeology: Foun- , H. Trump, The Prehistory of the Mediterranean
G. Daniel, The Megalith Builders of Western Europe dations of Civilization (San Francisco: Free- (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980).
(London: Hutchinson, 1963). man, 1972). Wainwright, The Henge Monuments: Ceremony
, The Prehistoric Chamber Tombs of France P. V. D. Stern, Prehistoric Europe from Stone Age and Society in Prehistoric Britain (New York:
(London; Thames and Hudson, 1960). Man to the Early Creeks (New York: Nor- Thames and Hudson, 1990).
]. D. Evans, Malta (London: Thames and Hudson, ton, 1969).
1959).
A. Laming, Lascaux, trans. E. F. Armstrong (Har-
mondsworth and Baltimore: Penguin, 1959).

41
Jericho (Israel), wall showing superimposed layers, ca. 7000 B.C. and later.
THE RISE OF THE CITY:
ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

The Urban Revolution


BeholdthebondofHeavenandEarth,thecity . . .
terial wealth. With these two literate cul- bonded to each other, in a rich artifice of
Behold Nippur, the city . . .
tures, Egypt and Mesopotamia, history contiguity. The city presents us with a new
Behold the kindly wall, the city . . .
proper is said to begin, as distinct from the set of environmental ideas, such as the
... its pure river
document-free prehistory of the Stone Age. street, the public square, the defensive wall
... its quay where the boats stand
Writing helps us to draw the line between and its crowds our discussion with
gates. It
Behold the Pulal, its well of good water
Behold the Idnunblrdu, its pure canal . . .
civilized and "barbarous" societies, and for a score of building inventions for exam-
this reason, among others, we have cus- ple, the canal and the granary, the palace
This is the opening of a Sumerian myth tomarily called the Near East "the cradle of and the bath, the market, the bakery, shops,
about the moon-god Nanna, and it dates civilization." restaurants, and libraries.
from the beginning of the second millen- The word from the
"civilization" derives The urban revolution differs from the

nium B.C. the time of the third rearrange- which means city. This gives
Latin civitas, Neolithic revolution in one essential way.
ment of Stonehenge. There are two note- us the other accepted characteristic of civ- Itdoes not affect the basic relationship of
worthy things about this bit of poetry from ilized humanity
that it has for its theater people to nature, as the passage from
Mesopotamia. First, it is a written record: of activity an intricate artifact, the city, that hunting to food production certainly did.
a distant culture speaks to us through it di- sets it apart from the basic life of the vil- Agriculture and animal husbandry survive
rectly. This is a very different relationship lage or the pastoral tribe. To be civilized is as the principal modes of subsistence in the
to the past than the one we had estab- to be urban; civilization, in this strict sense, urban period. Even trade cannot be credited
lished with the Britons of Salisbury who is "the art of living in towns." Traditionally, exclusively to the rise of cities. Of course,
could reach us only through the mute tes- the molding of the city as a social and ma- both agriculture and trade were intensified
timony of their stones. And second, the terial concept is credited to the same cra- and regimented within an urban economy:
passage sings rapturously of a thing called dle of civilization that invented writing, the one, profiting from irrigation, crop ro-
the city, set on a river, serviced by canals, specifically to the southern region of Mes- tation, and the use of fertilizers, to pro-
blessed with good freshwater. opotamia, Sumer, sometime in the early duce a surplus of food; the other, enlarg-
So at the very same time in history, in two fourth millennium B.C. (Figs. 3.1, 3.8) ing its scope to include, besides pottery and
separate corners of the ancient world, dif- If boundary-fixing and stone monuments stones like obsidian, the metals required by
ferent patterns of community were in ex- represent the architectural response to the the new urban technology and the con-
istence. While Neolithic Europe carried on Neolithic revolution, the ingenious fabric sumption of luxury goods. But this is more
a stone-using peasant economy well into the of the city corresponds to the second ma- a matter of disciplined efficiency than a
second millennium B.C., in two spots of the jor upheaval in the human scheme, the ur- radical turn in the exploitation of nature.
Near East there were contemporary literate ban revolution. How was this fabric The city, above all else, typified a social
cultures that knew how to work metal, or- wrought? What were its components? process. The revolution it brought about
ganize food production as an industry, and Physically, what is it that differentiates the was embodied in the interaction of people
keep written records of their transactions city from the village? with each other.
and They had left their Neolithic
beliefs. The city is an involved organism under Since this is so, we should not be sur-
past behind them long before Europe and constant change. (Fig. 3.2) In its living mesh, prised that recent archaeological discover-
had gone on to forge a complex society of public structures are bonded to the places ies have shown the city to have emerged
great technological achievement and ma- where people live, and these, in turn, are long before the fourth millennium B.C., in

43
A PLACE ON EARTH

areas identified with the Neolithic age. The Stirrings of Urban Consciousness its. In either case, the city proved that it

settlement about 9,000 years ago


at Jericho could not, as the village could, remain self-
was a well-organized community of about The chemistry of early cities relied on three contained. The local interaction among its
3,000 people, in contrast to the normal active properties:people, productive re- people, complicated by numbers, was only
Neolithic village with population of sev-
its sources, and ambition. The city-form as- one dimension of its social mobility. Out-
eral hundred, (^atalhoyiik in southern An- pired to be compact and versatile. And the side, there were other centers of closely
atolia, a 13-hectare (32-acre) Neolithic set- future of this proud amalgam of people and controlled resources that envied it or re-
tlement of the seventh millennium B.C., with buildings could be secured only through plenished its wants. To defend itself against
shrines ahd quarters for specialized crafts, faultless defense and aggressive progress. the envious and still carry on trade, the city

a clever residential layout, and the produc- A presupposed a concentrated pop-


city formed a larger sphere of social contact.
tion of wall paintings, textiles, copper and ulation, beyond the intimate congress of The citizenry was forced to organize it-
bone artifacts, patently merits being called farming homesteads and tribal families. The self in a way that could contend with the
a town. land it occupied had to be able to do more diversified tasks of its supple existence. The
Onefurther corrective should be offered than feed its crowds. Food surplus ensured population fissured into specialized groups.
to our thinking about the urban revolu- a stable way of life behav-
against the fitful Besides the great peasant mass, some were
tion. It is possible to make entirely too ior of nature; it also supplied a source of trained to fight, others to build. There were
much of the city. It appears that in corre- wealth to pay for importing what the city full-time craftspeople of metal and stone,
lating urbanism and civilized history, we needed and did not have. Alternatively, the as well as priests and merchants. And spe-
have imbued the city with positive qualities citymight derive its strength from some raw cialization went hand in hand with social
the absence of which, at least by implica- or crafted resource, such as animal fur or Some groups administered the
stratification.
tion, has tended to downgrade other social metal, attractive to markets beyond its lim- urban territory that stretched far beyond the
organisms. The term urban has turned into
a value judgment; rural or pastoral, in con-
trast, carry with them a note of regression

or conservatism.
is unfair. To hold that civilized
This bias Fig. 3.1 Map: Western Asia, 8,000-700 B.C.

lifecannot exist outside of cities belittles the


genuine achievement of much nonurban
culture and may distort the view of a total
environmental order where the cities and
the countryside are locked in mutually
fructifying intercourse. It is not enough to
grant the truism that cities, for the most
part, could not survive without the sustain-
ing labor of peripheral fields and pasture.
There were moments in history when the
urban and pastoral modes of life were
competing high cultures. There were mo-
ments, too, when the collapse of an urban
civilization ushered in, after a period of
painful adjustment, an equally viable social
structure that made do without cities. Be-
cause of our preconceptions about the pu-
tative superiority of cities, we have too easily
seen these nonurban sequels as the inevi-
table troughs between the peaks of human
genius and enterprise. We are given to
calling them the Dark Ages. But if we re-
strain our enthusiasm for the glamor of cit-
ies, we might profitably reassess the con-

tribution of the centuries that came after the


destruction of Bronze Age city-states in
Greece, for example, or the time after the
deterioration of Mediterranean urbanism
that accompanied the fall of the Roman
Empire.

44

'
->, .
''
la
THE RISE OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

Fig. 3.2 Hamadan (Iran); aerial view.

confines of the city, controlling the princi- held a definite advantage over those less power manifests itself through architecture
palresources of production. These citizens favored in the social hierarchy. perhaps more easily and universally than
had a reserve of power that they had come The city-form, compact and versatile, through anything else. The rich must have
by in the course of time and, through it, reconciled the demands of privilege with residences whose fancy trappings and am-
they held sway over the rest of the popu- the pressing need for unity. The powerful pleness in the thick of the urban fabric
lation. But below them the citizenry was not must have stages for the ceremonies of their would plainly bespeak their station. At the
on equal footing. Certain tasks carried less office, and these must be of a scale and same time the city-form contained the hu-
prestige than others. The chance for ac- level of grandeur that would impress both man base of this exalted peak and fur-
quiring wealth was uneven, and the rich the citizenry and foreign embassies. For nished it with a sense of enhanced iden-

45
A PLACE ON EARTH

tity. The gods looked after the entire The date of this activity is about 7500 B.C. yields lackluster surfaces, the urge is keen
citizenry, both the humble and the high; The settlement covered about 3 hectares (8 to do something more with it whitewash
the temples solemnized pious community. acres) and must have therefore been un- it, liven it with color, or modulate it for ef-
The ring of walls expressed the fears and the commonly populous. (Fig. 3.3) Moreover, fect. One clever expedient is to devise a
strength of a common fate. Even the opulence once it had reached its optimum spread, the sheathing that both protects and embel-
of the rich redounded all the way to the settlement was fortified by a fine stone wall lishes
for example, sheathing like tile that
simple peasant, for the peasant could boast of Cyclopean masonry that guarded the will be hard, water-resistant, and colorful.
of belonging to the community that dis- people and their precious substance, the But the invention of tile lies several thou-
played such wealth. spring water, for more than a thousand sand years ahead in time. The polished

years. The fort was overseen by a massive reddish plaster of Jericho used on the walls
Jericho round tower, also of stone, built against the and floors is itself a notable antecedent.
Precisely how it all started is unclear. Rev- inside of the wall. (Fig. 3.4) In its hollow There are several ways to build with earth,
olution implies a sudden break, but it may core, a staircase of single stone slabs had all of them ancient. The crudest is to mix

have been in several places at once, and been constructed, either to man the tower together soil, water, straw, reeds, leaves,
with varying motives, that the idea of the or else to reach the source of the spring, and whatever else of this sort of material
city gradually took root. At this stage of our perhaps both. That water had something to comes to hand and pile it up to form a
knowledge, we must assign the origin of the do with the curtain of defense is suggested wall
the technique known as "cob." The
city-form to western Asia; and Jericho would by the fact that the tower was intimate with wattle-and-daub technique makes use of an
seem to qualify as the earliest surviving a series of mud-brick enclosures, unlike any upright frame of wattling, on both sides of
town. of the houses, that have been interpreted which the wet mud would be applied. But
The today is a great mound near the
site as water cisterns. the two most satisfactory variants of earth
oasis of the modern town, on the left bank About 6500 B.C., this Neolithic strong-
of the river Jordan. It holds a series of Jer- hold, perched between eastern nomads and
ichos, each built on the ruins of its prede- the fertile plains of Palestine, was success-
cessor. This clinging to a place of birth will fully overrun. The houses were now rec-
prove a durable habit for cities. Time and tangular, with rounded corners.
slightly
again until our own day, cities ravaged by They were arranged around courtyards
conquest or natural disaster will elect to where the cooking took place. Each house Fig. 3.3 Jericho (Israel), first settlement, ca. 7500
rebuild on their ashes, fully aware that they consisted of several rooms, interconnect- B.C.; site and excavated portion of wall; plan.

will be vulnerable anew. In large measure ing through wide doorways. Sitting among
\
it is tradition, the genius of the place, that the houses were several buildings set aside
accounts for this stubbornness. The ground for worship; they shared features of resi-
X \
is hallowed. It has the imprint of time-hon- dential architecture, such as rounded
ored cults and generations of inhabitants. doorway jambs.
Besides, there is invariably a tangible ad- Like the townspeople they displaced, the
vantage to the site that prompted occupa- newcomers were also compelled to use
tion in the first place. earth as their main building material, but
In the case of Jericho, this was a reliable they went to some pains to improve its look.
source of freshwater that now gushes from Stone was in short supply; what little could
the place called Elisha's Fountain. The life- be found within easy portage was used for
giving value of such a spring, in the desert defenses, the substructure of houses, and
of the Dead Sea, is obvious. Here by the for other extraordinary purposes. A shrine
welling water, where their quarry came to in a private house features a dressed pillar

drink, hunters had pitched their tents on of volcanic rock set on a stone pedestal in
bedrock and reserved a small plot of land a semicircular niche. It brings to mind the
as a sanctuary; and here, within a thou- pillar in the terminal apse of Maltese tem-
sand years, the transition had occurred to ples.
a settled life based on agriculture. The first The rest had to make do with mud, which
permanent settlement had solid domed has advantages as well as drawbacks. It is

houses of mud-brick, with an entrance of course easier to work with than stone,
porch and curved walls, probably in imita- since it no cutting and dressing. But
requires
tion of the round tents of the nomadic mud has its own problems. Although it is
hunters. The floor was sunk below the eminently plastic, it has to be shaped
ground level and was reached by means of somehow and stiffened so that it will stand.
wooden stairs. Underneath it, the dead lay Second, it has to be protected from damp- F O DO 200 300

buried. ness. And because it is a drab material that MO 25 50 100

46

^TT
Fig. 3.4a lericho, tower built against side of set-
tlement wall.

F O lO 20 40
Fig. 3.4b lericho, wall and tower; sec-
tion/perspective view.
MO 2 4 8 16

47
A PLACE ON EARTH

construction are pise and mud-brick. In the Jericho. The principle is of course differ- and spectacle. Stone ramps lead down to
first case, slightly moist earth is filled into ent. Jericho was a closed town with fixed the houses at regular intervals as tributary
a rigid, movable formwork and is pounded limits. To grow, it would be obliged to lanes. There is no encompassing wall and,
into place, layer on layer, with a rammer. overflow its defensive ring, and either re- therefore, no commitment to a stable size.
In the second case, the earth is cast into build it further out or else forgo enclosure Growth is linear; it depends architecturally
small building units that are then laid in of the new periphery. The composition of on nothing more than the extension of the
regular courses and bonded together by Khirokitia is open. The houses huddle on main street at either end.
some kind of mortar. the two sides of the main street, which gives Several points should be made about this
The mud-bricks of Jericho were molded the settlement a spine of communication main street of Khirokitia. First, it had its

by hand and were sun-dried. Baking makes


bricks more durable, but it requires a great
deal of firewood, which affects the cost, and
a more advanced system of production. At
any rate, both baking and the mechanical
shaping of bricks in molds would be per-
fected later.
Fig. 3.5 Khirokitia (Cyprus), Neolithic settlement,
Although none, by could be con-
itself,
ca. 5500 B.C.; plan.
sidered decisive, the sizable population,
defensive wall, and interweaving of public
buildings (cisterns, shrines) and houses are
features that point Jericho toward urban-
ism. If irrigation were in fact practiced, an-
other crucial element of organized life
would be present in its structure. For to
succeed, irrigation must depend on plan-
ning and strict controls. The main and sec-
ondary channels must be geared to a ra-
tional system of field division. Sluice gates
or some other regulating mechanism must
be devised. Agreement must be reached on
the length of time during the day allowed
each farmer to tap the channel he is as-
signed. The control of sluice gates postu-
lates a community-approved code of be-
havior; its reinforcement will be entrusted,
sooner or later, to some governing board
with powers of license and sanction. All this
outstrips the social contract of a simple vil-

lage.

Khirokitia
Curiously, one missing ingredient in the
city-form of Jerichois the street. The houses

and shrines communicated by means of


courtyards, it would seem, and the leftover
spaces among buildings. The first true street
of which we have a record may be in Khi-
rokitia, a hilltop settlement of the sixth
millennium b.c. in southern Cyprus, within
the bend of the river Maroniou. (Fig. 3.5)

The from the riverbank on


street runs uphill
the south side of the bend, crosses the set- >i
tlement, and descends again on the oppo-
it defines the settlement
site side. In fact, F O 50 lOO 200 300
as emphatically as the walls did the first M O 25 50 KX)

48

, I
,
,'^. v mm
THE RISE OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

practical uses. Built of limestone and raised skelterassembly of houses. The formal less a special spot at which to tarry and ex-
considerably above ground level, it count- cohesion promoted the feeling of commu- change pleasantries. Out of such stages of
ered the action of erosion and contributed nity. Friends lived up or down the street; public congress will evolve the Creek agora,
structurally to the stability of the houses that your house you saw them
sitting in front of the Roman forum, the piazza, and all the
held onto the hill slopes. Along its paved pass by and greeted them informally. Half- other variations of city squares.
path, the people of Khirokitia climbed eas- way up the steepest part of the ascent from Lastly, a thoroughfare such as the one at
ily from the river, carrying the boulders and the south, the street was widened into a Khirokitia has organizational and legal con-
the water to build their mud homes. platform about 4.5 meters (15 feet) wide, sequences. By explicitly defining and artic-
Beyond this sane utility, the street also roughly rounded along one edge and ulating an outdoor space for the common
implies a sense of design among the Khi- stepped. (Fig. 3.6) This halting place, with good, the people assume a double respon-
rokitians that moved them to marshal, its splendid view of the Maroniou Valley and sibility: the upkeep of this space and its

through the expediency of a central axis, the sea beyond, was the main incident along preservation as public property. A public
what might otherwise have been a helter the ribbon of the public way, and doubt- way, by definition, belongs to everybody;

Fig. 3.6 Khirokitia, village "square"; an oblique

view of the area marked as an inset in Fig, 3.5.

,^?^

49
A PLACE ON EARTH

Khirokitia understood this. Steady repair and The spread of metal has a mixed impact ber framework of posts and beams divides
alteration of the nnain street during its pro- on the history of architecture. The direct the walls into a series of vertical and hori-
tracted life show that the community was application of metal as architectural orna- zontal panels that are then filled in with
not innocent of "civic" duty. Again, main- ment starts in Mesopotamia; in building mud-brick and plastered. This is the pro-
taining their communal artery free of en- construction, not until Classical antiquity. totype of so-called half-timber construc-
croachments took vigilance, a general un- But the indirect effects of metal on the tion. In the shrines, laid on the same basic
derstanding, and social maturity. At the manufactured environment are already ev- scheme as the houses, the individual panels
same time, the zealous safekeeping of this ident at (^atalhoyijk. The desire to obtain were decorated with plaster reliefs and
public trust tended to sharpen the dispa- and work this uncommon material could in paintings dealing with the cult of the mother
rateness between public and private prop- itself sustain towns that mined it, traded in goddess. The imagery itself looks back on
erty. The size and shape of the houses at it, and knew how to fashion it into sump- the Old Stone Age past. A bull represents
Khirokitia give no hint of a developed so- tuous art. To the traditional crafts em- the goddess' constant companion, and
cial hierarchy; yet spatial hierarchies might
braced by the village stone-carving, pot- stylized heads of bulls and rams in the form
well beengendered by the design of the tery, weaving
metal added others that of low pillars figure as cult objects. And
community, so that houses right on the fitted into the nascent townscape with its there is, here and there, a debased version
main street or adjacent to the halting place manufacturing establishments and stalls of of hunt magic, in lively scenes of animal
might begin to seem privileged and there- sale. baiting.
fore more desirable than others. The small part of (^atalhoyuk that has so
So (^atalhoyuk contains it all it is a tele-
far been excavated covers a residential scoped view of human history from the
(^atalhoyuk quarter. (Fig. 3.7) If the rest of the enor- Stone Age hunter to the city dweller. In its
(^atalhoyuk in the Konya Plain of south An- mous site were to be cleared, one might ambience, the wildness of the horned beast
atolia is the largest and most complex Neo- come across the environmental traces of the is at home with no less than three forms of

lithic settlement to be excavated. And it intense bustle of its many crafts that left wheat and two of barley; and side by side
rests on a new rationale for the city trade. hundreds of artifacts in the soil. There with the hunter and the sophisticated farmer
Besides hunting, a progressive variety of would be the shops of the basketmakers lives the specialist in metalwork, as well as
agriculture, and stockbreeding,
this town and weavers; of the merchants of animal the merchant with his eyes abroad.
of perhaps 10,000 people would seem to skin, leather, and fur; the makers of cop-
have controlled the trade of a valued com- per mirrors and jewelry. Perhaps there
modity, obsidian, the principal sources for would also be a public market in the midst Mesopotamia
The Cities of
which were further north. The black vol- of the urban fabric, where the townspeo-
canic glass, the best material of the time for ple would go to look for stone and shell The stirrings of an urban consciousness that
cutting tools, fed a brisk local industry and beads, flint daggers and sickle blades, bone were first felt in Palestine about 7500 B.C.
supplied the wherewithal for foreign com- ladles and belt hooks. seem to die out by the year 5500. When
merce. The town could afford to obtain The settlement was neither fortified like again we encounter the city some fifteen
numerous luxury items, such as marble, Jericho nor open like Khirokitia. The build- centuries later, in the "land between riv-

flint, sulphur, pumice, calcite, and alabas- ings were grouped into tight quarters so that ers" (which what Mesopotamia means),
is

ter. All of this went


enhance the daily
to a continuous, blank wall of construction it shows up in full force and blossoms with

routine and personal appearance of the faced the countryside: no doors or win- unprecedented intensity. (Fig. 3.8) We are
townspeople. dows on this side were allowed in the now dealing with a concentrated urban
But there was another important skill houses. Streets were unknown. The quarter culture sustained by a written tradition. So
present in the working of
(^atalhoyiik, opened up with an occasional courtyard, while it is undeniable that the city-form got
metal. Lead and copper were shaped into which also doubled and rubbish
as lavatory its start in the Neolithic ambience of the
ornaments and small tools such as awls and dump. Entry to the houses was normally eastern Mediterranean, nothing like the
drills. The raw material was to be found in through a hole in the flat roof reached by cities of Mesopotamia had ever been seen

the Taurus range, the mountain chain that a wooden ladder. Since the hearth and oven before in human history.
frames the Anatolian plateau on the south were directly below the hole, the entry was The history of Mesopotamia is long and
side. Prospecting, then, was one of the also a smoke stack. Small windows below tangled. In architectural terms, we are un-
many activities of the town along with a the eaves on at least two sides of the house able to trace a neat, orderly development
primitive form of metallurgy, or at least the brought in additional light. The plan is through the known fragments. As Henri
knowledge of smelting. This is very early consistent. Each house had one rectangu- Frankfort, the foremost student of Meso-
indeed for such technical knowledge; me- lar room, with a narrow storage space along potamian architecture, has warned us, the
tallurgy would not be practiced fully until one side and built-in platforms along two story is marked by "promising starts that
the cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt walls, one each for the men and women of lead nowhere" and by a tenacious adher-
mastered it beginning in the fourth millen- the household. ence over the millennia to a limited reper-
nium B.C. The construction method is novel. A tim- tory of formal types. In our own brief sum-

50

T-^ai
THE RISE OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

Fig.3.7 Qatalhoyuk (Turkey), Neolithic settle-


mary, we might therefore suspend a strict

ment, seventh millennium B.C.; reconstruction chronological account in favor of a few


view of residential area. critical environmental contributions that can
be isolated for special focus.
Four broad segments of chronology will
suffice to govern our discussion.
1. The first is the so-called Protoliterate
Period, from ca. During this
3500 to 3000 B.C.
time, the towns, which
probably had
evolved from agricultural villages, acquired
their battlements of ringwalls; and the
temple and the ziggurat began to gain ar-
chitectural definition. The first written doc-
uments made their appearance. Political au-
thority resided in an assembly of male citi-
zens that selected short-term war leaders.
2. When the role of these leaders was

retained in times of peace as well, king-


ship, first elective and then hereditary, be-
came established. With it rose the monu-
mental palace, an administrative center
which employed a large retinue of bureau-
crats and entertainers and occupied itself
with raising and supplying an army and
maintaining the defensive system of the city.
This period, roughly 3000 to 2350 B.C. is
called Early Dynastic.
3. The next few hundred years, up to
about 1600 B.C., might loosely be referred
to as the later Sumerian period. This period
saw the rise of empire, the collective rule
of several city-states through the might of
a sovereign king. The first part of the pe-
riod is dominated by the Third Dynasty of
Ur whose prodigious building activity in-
cludes the ziggurat of Ur-Nammu, the high
point of that building type.
4. One last period is interesting, f^e As-
syrian, from about 1350 to 612 B.C. The
northern region of the two rivers now
flourishes at the expense of lower Meso-
potamia. We know the Assyrians by their
imposing state reliefs and their palaces, like
the one at Khorsabad.

The Layout of Cities


There is not enough at the lower levels of
explored mounds to give us a total image
of the Mesopotamian city before the Early
Dynastic Period. By then, a dozen or so cit-
ies containing from 10,000 to 50,000 people
prospered, both in lower Mesopotamia or
F O 25 50 75
I
Sumer and further north in Babylonia. The
cities were enclosed by a wall and sur-
M O 10 25 rounded by suburban villages and hamlets.

51
A PLACE ON EARTH

(Fig. 3.9) The two monumental centers were tects designed perfect house plans, rectan- house had a direct bearing on the shape of
the ziggurat complex with its own defen- gles divided neatly into orthogonal rooms itsreplacement, which pushed like a fresh
sive wall,overseen by a powerful priest- around a central living space. But the real- shoot from the older roots in the soil.
hood, and the palace of the king. Lesser ity of a living town played havoc with the The houses, before they collapsed or
temples were sprinkled here and there conceptual order of the architect. The were abandoned, renewed themselves in
within the rest of the urban fabric, which building lots were not of uniform size. Each various ways as the daily life of their occu-
was a promiscuous blend of residential and house was compelled to fit into a predeter- pants or the rhythm of the streets dictated.
commercial architecture. Small shops were mined space, more often than not irregu- Since refuse was dumped in the public
at times incorporated into the houses, but lar, in the tangle of its block. Furthermore, space outside the front door, the level of
the norm was to have structures devoted itwas the custom not to clear an earlier the streets rose perceptibly. At Ur, the
exclusively to commercial or industrial use house fully before starting to build over it, townsfolk kept abreast of this phenome-
interspersed throughout the city. In the later but rather to make use of the ruins as a non by raising the threshold of the single
Sumerian period at Ur, an example of a ba- foundation; as a result, the plan of the older door that customarily led into the house and
zaar was found: a concentration of little
booths along a narrow passage, probably
sheltered by awnings, with doors at either
end that were closed at night. At Tell As-
mar, a large building once thought to be a
palace has recently been reinterpreted as Fig. 3.8 Map: Mesopotamia.
an industrial complex housing a number of
concerns, such as a tannery, a small-scale
ironworks, and, at a later date, textile
weaving exclusively.
Traffic along the twisted network of un-
paved streets was mostly pedestrian. The
ass, that classic beast of burden, navigated
easily enough. At Ur, one sees on occasion
a low flight of steps against a building from
which riders could mount, and street cor-
ners were regularly rounded to facilitate
passage. Street width, at the very most,
would be 3 meters (9 feet) or so, and that
only for the few principal thoroughfares that
led to the public buildings. These would be
bordered with the houses of the rich.
Poorer folk lived at the back, along narrow
lanes and alleys. It is hard to imagine much
wheeled traffic in this maze, though both
service carts (with solid wheels) and char-
iots had been in use from an early date. The
ill-made tracery of public ways resulted un-
doubtedly from the ancient occupations of
the city sites. Once walled, the land be-
came precious, and the high value of pri-
vate property kept public space to a mini-
mum. Ample squares or public gardens
were very rare.
The houses were grouped into con-
gested blocks, where party walls were
common. (Fig. 3.10) In fact, though the
constituent unit was the single-family
dwelling, it is difficult to see the block as

anything but a raveled agglomerate forever


adjusting to the pressures of changing use.
On the blank face of their tablets, archi-

52
THE RISE OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

by adding inner steps as required to reach Fig. 3.9 Ur (Iraq), schematic plan of city in sec-
the original floor. When in time the ground ond millennium b.c.
storey threatened to be buried below street
level, the house would be pulled down to
Temenos Precinct
the ceilings of the ground storey, and a new Nimin - Tabba Temple
floorwould be built on these ceiling beams Royal Cemetery
to match the current height of the street. Royal Mausoleo
The replaced ground storey was often Residential Area
City Wall
pressed into service as a family vault. Fur-
Fortification Tower (?)
thermore, the house might be altered
North Harbor
through suitable remodeling to ready it for West Harbor
a new function, as when Mr. Igmil-Sin of
Ur, headmaster of a boys' school, adapted
the courtyard and guest room of his house
(on what Sir Leonard Woolley has nick-
named Broad Street) into classrooms, or
when No. 1 Bakers' Square was entirely re-
done as a smithy. Nothing about the city-
form, in short, was fixed and finished at any
time, any more than the human body is
fixed and finished at any time during its ex-
istence; architectural metabolism con-
stantly transformed the makeup of the
cityscape that was held together by the
stiffer skeleton of streets and ramparts.

The houses were, for the most part, one-


storey structures of mud-brick, with sev-
eral rooms wrapped around a central court.
There were usually no outside windows, no
attempt to contribute to a street archi-
tecture. The family turned within. The only
opening to the outside, the front door, re-
vealed nothing when it was opened but a
small vestibule with a blank wall directly
ahead. You entered the house proper
through a door to one side of the vesti-
bule.
The wealthier classes of Ur lived in am-
ple houses of a dozen or so rooms, ar-
ranged on two storeys, and whitewashed
inside and out. The ground storey was set
aside for the servants, who were generally
domestic slaves, and for guests; the family
lived upstairs. A typical plan had a wide and
shallow reception room on the far side of
the court for visitors, a main lavatory on the
side of the court facing the guest room, and,
next to it, the staircase for the upper floor.
(Fig. 3.11) At one corner was the kitchen.

The court had four wooden posts at the


corners that held up a continuous wooden
gallery giving access into the upper rooms.
(Fig. 3.12) The roof sloped gently inward,
F O 100 500 1000 1500
projectingbeyond the gallery to protect it
from rainwater which was directed, by MO 50 lOO 300 600

53
T'

A PLACE ON EARTH

means of gutters sticking out of an inner Fig. 3.10 Ur, residential area southeast of the royal
coping, onto the paved court below and mausolea in the twentieth century B.C.; plan.
from there to the subsoil. These were
comfortable, even gracious, houses, wHth a
B. Bazaar
minimum of simple furniture moved about
C. Chapel
easily as needed: folding chairs and tables,
mattresses, chests of wood or wickerwork
to store clothes, colorful rugs on the floors,
and plen.ty of cushions strewn about. The
domestic arrangements have much in com-
mon with modern Arab houses in the Mid-
dle East.

Temples and Ziggurats


A map of Nippur on a clay tablet from about
1500 B.C. gives a graphic rendition of the
public aspect of the city. (Fig. 3.13) To the

left, the double line of the Euphrates River


is evident, the lifeblood of the plain, whose
low banks and moderate course made nav-
igation possible and whose flooding, when
tamed, turned dust into fertile mud.
Alongside it, we can see the double line of
the city wall, the crown of sovereignty. In
the middle, we find a canal, the imperative
of advanced and the index of an
irrigation
organized and community. Then,
self-reliant
to the right of the canal, the most impor-
tant symbol of all, the temple of the god or
goddess who watched over the city.
The temple constituted the heart of the
Mesopotamian city. Small, freestanding
shrines, we know, already existed in the
farming villages in preurban days. They had
two standard features that were to be re-
tained: a niche of epiphany, perhaps al-
ready at this time marked by the statue of
the deity or an altar, and a table for offer-
ings. By 3500 B.C. these shrines had be-
come codified into monumental temple
forms and fitted into the urban scheme.
One among the many gods ranked su-
preme, a deity who was thought, quite lit-
erally, to own the city. All the townspeople
devoted their lives to his or her service, and
the ruling powers were thought merely to
exercise stewardship over the divine es-
tate. The and their produce be-
fields
longed to the The seeds, draught an-
deity.
imals, and implements of tilling were
supplied by the temple, and the harvest was
stored on its grounds for distribution to the
community. Craftsmen, organized in guilds,
offered part of their output to the temple.

54
THE RISE OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

and so did fishermen with their catch and density ample precinct, its form could
in its ture was stood over it, but with some cru-
builders with their labor. The temple com- afford to be both regular and open. It seems cial modifications. One side of the rectan-
plex was the hub of an economic system that standard temples as well as ziggurat gle broke out into a projecting bay
that has been described as "theocratic so- temples grew out of a common archetype. containing a podium or altar; a second po-
cialism." (Fig. 3.14) With its own wall around We have a glimpse of this prototype at Er- dium, most an offering table, stood
likely

it, it formed the last bulwark against the idu, considered in Mesopotamian history to in the middle. A door
led into the enclo-
city's enemies; when it fell, it was all over have been the birthplace of kingship. There, sure from the side opposite the altar bay.
for the city, and the patron deity, deprived a series of temples was built on sand dunes The next phase was an oblong scheme
of a home, would wander aimlessly, as one over the years. (Fig. 3.15) with a central nave disposed longitudinally
inscription puts it, like the bird that flies The earliest to leave a trace was a small, and flanked by subsidiary rooms somewhat
about with no place to alight. thin-walled rectangular enclosure with in the manner of aisles. The corner rooms

There were two ways in which this tem- projecting piers within. Two circular tables formed projecting bastions. A cross-axis was
ple differed from others in the city. It stood for burnt offerings stood outside. When this set up by an oblong room in the middle of
on tremendous platform called the zig-
a was overwhelmed by wind-blown sand, or each aisle. These acted as vestibules to
gurat, and being free of the pressures of perhaps purposely buried, a similar struc- doors cut into the long sides of the tem-

I . Courtyard 4. Private Chape! 7 Staircase Fig. 3.11 Ur, residential quarter between the zig-
2. Entry Vestibule 5.Kitchen 8 Drain gurat precinct and the West Harbor; plan. Num-
3 Reception Roonn (Liwan) 6 Lavatory SShopC?) ber III Cay Street is the plan of the upper-class

house shown in Fig. 3.12.

Fig. 3.12 Ur, Number III Gay Street, court; re-


construction drawing.

55
A PLACE ON EARTH

pie, of which one, to the southeast, was


approached by a formal stair. There was also
a double entrance on the short side oppo-
site the altar. The walls were now thick and
buttressed all along the exterior periphery.

Inside, spur walls and buttresses were


spaced in relation to the ceiling beams and
rafters that would rest along the tops of the
walls. .

At this point the temple form began to


diverge. At Warka (Uruk), the biblical Er-
ech, wehave an early classical example of
the ziggurat temple, while the develop-
ment of the standard temple can be fol-
lowed in three successive buildings in honor
of the moon-god Sin at the northern town
of Khafaje.
At the White Temple of Warka, dating
from the Protoliterate Period, the corner
bastions were dropped, and the exterior
outline was neatly pleated in a uniform ar-
rangement of buttresses that created wall
niches and reveals. (Fig. 3.16) Clearly, the
initial structural logic of this distinctive fea-
ture of Mesopotamian temple architecture
had already been transmuted into a system
of aesthetics. What started as a support for
the mud-brick walls became, in addition,
the means of their plastic articulation.
The White Temple sat on an artificial Fig. 3.13 Nippur (Iraq), ca. 1500 B.C.; map on clay
mountain, or ziggurat, of irregular outline, tablet.

rising 12 meters (40 feet) above the fea-


tureless plain. The ziggurat had swelled to
grandiose proportions in stages by absorb-
ing the frames of earlier temples, which in
accordance with local practice would be closer to the living space of the city and was tained the bread ovens associated with the
filled solid after serving their time, to be surrounded by common structures. Sin daily meals of the deity, and offices and
used as terraces for the replacement struc- Temple Khafaje, roughly contempo-
II at storerooms lined up along the south side.
ture. The walls of the ziggurat were sloped rary with the White Temple of Warka, illus- These practical adjustments to the urban
and striped with diagonal fluting. Access to trates the result of this crowded condition. fabric affected the experience of the tem-
the top was by means of a stair and ramp (Fig. 3.17) The temple proper was sealed ple. Rather than being an object in mid-
built against the northeast face. The tem- tight on three sides and could be entered space with openings on three sides, as was
ple stood toward the southwest, unencum- only through an irregular forecourt. Cult the White Temple at Warka, the temple now
bered by parapets. Its four corners pointed observances carried out in the open air at became the innermost of a series of en-
toward the main directions of the com- Warka were here relegated to this odd closed spaces with a single entrance in one
pass, the standard orientation for religious space. One of the aisles of the tripartite of its long sides. By the time of Sin Temple
architecture. Whitewashed and lofty, it temple plan now housed a narrow stair- VIII, in the Early Dynastic Period, the one
would be visible for miles around above the case leading up to the flat roof, a usable main entrance to this introverted complex
ring of the city walls
a landmark that space in the summertime. At Sin Temple V, was flanked by massive blocks of masonry
placed Warka in the vast stretches of fields a later stage of the same building, the stair and approached by a monumental stair-
and marshes and announced its divine pa- was removed from perhaps to
this aisle, case; the courts were consolidated into one
tronage. discourage excessive traffic through the functional space; and the temple was
The case of the urban temple was differ- temple, and set up outside along one wall tightened further through the suppression
ent. Dedicated to lesser deities, it was built of the forecourt. Additional courts con- of one aisle and the rigid reordering of the

56

li
THE RISE OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

which had to be entered through a single


substantial gate flanked by towers. Here at
this fortified gate the transition was made
from the profane world of city streets into
the sacred world of the temple complex.
The worshipper's axial progress moved
through the outer and inner courts toward
the elevated sanctuary, in a controlled ex-
perience of augmenting privilege and
sanctity.
The experience of the ziggurat temple, in
contrast, rested on reverential climbing.
Godhead in the urban temple resided in a
remote and guarded sanctum at the end of
a planned sequence. In the ziggurat com-
plex, godhead was lifted up above the city,
hovering between the heavens and the daily
sea. In nature, this intermediate territory
was represented by the mountain. It was in
the mountain that the earth and the sky
were united. Earth deities dwelled inside it,
and the deities of the sky could make its
summit their halting place. The very form
of the mountain suggested a setting of rec-

1 ZIggurat onciliation between the two prime motives

2 Shrine of Nannar of prehistoric religion, the comfort of the


3. Court of Nannar earth and heavenward aspiration. Rooted in

4. Gig- Par- Ku the depths of the earth, the cradle of life

5. E-Dub-Lal-Mah and death, the mountain thrust upward like


6. E-Nun-Mah solid prayer to a region that the sun's path
7. E- Hursag circumscribed and the stars populated. It
8. Wen married in its shape the dark cave below and
9. Temenos Wall (outside face) the dome of heaven above. It became the
traditional stage of communion between
gods and chosen mortals. In every religion
of the past, processions of pilgrimages make
their way up these they
natural ladders;
F O 100 300 600 were, and still are, among the most ele-
1

mental rituals of faith.


M O 50 100 300 The ziggurat was conceived as a substi-
tute mountain. (Fig. 3.19) The Sumerians
Fig. 3.14 Ur, ziggurat precinct, Third Dynasty
(2113-2006 B.C.) and later; plan.
who galvanized the first towns of Meso-
potamia had come down from the moun-
tainous north, probably from the area
around the Caspian Sea. In the mud plain
of the south, the need to re-create the nat-
Other so that it formed a single antecham- and circular Work-
basins for ablutions. ural architecture of their homeland must
ber to the holy of holies. shops, bakeries, and storage rooms ar- have been keenly felt. This atavistic urge is

The urban temple, now formalized, would ranged themselves on four sides, while the evident in the naming of ziggurats: one of
retain this program even when, as with the temple was lifted on its own platform at the them, for instance, is called "House of the
nearby Temple Oval at Khafaje, the demo- far end. In front of the court, there was a Mountain, Mountain of the Storm, Bond
lition of houses opened up a large enough more public area with the offices of the between Heaven and Earth."
area for a major temple precinct. (Fig. 3.18) temple administration to one side. A high The essence of the ziggurat is that it be
The court of the urban temple had a well wall wrapped around the entire precinct, high. At its skirts will be arrayed the full

57

A PLACE ON EARTH

panoply of theocratic socialism store-


rooms and workshops, offices and priestly
quarters, and a temple where the statue of
the deity will stand for his or her epiphany,
since the unshielded radiance of divinity is
not commonly bearable. Up above, he or
she will appear in person to those entitled
to witness the deity's full glory. The zig-
gurat is a, ladder, then, as much for the de-
ity's descent into the city as for the cere-
monious climb of human servants the king
and the high and the pure virgin
priest
whom would have chosen for
the male god Temple XVI
himself and whose union with him would below
bring about, for one more year, fertility and
abundance in the land. The ziggurat tem-
ple was, among other things, a marriage
bed. We recall the Greek historian Hero-
B
dotus' description of the ziggurat at Baby-
lon.

On the topmost tower there is a spacious tem-


ple and inside the temple stands a couch of un-
usual size, richly adorned, with a golden table by
its side. There is no statue of any kind set up In
the place, nor is the chamber occupied by any-
one but a single native woman . . . who is cho-
sen for himself by the deity out of all the women
of the land. They also declare that the god comes
down person into
in this chamber, and sleeps
upon the couch.

The commission to build the temple came


from above. Precise measurements were
Corner of
spoken to the king in secret. We have the later Ziggurat
account of King Cudea of Lagash and how
he first realized that something was ex-
pected of him when the Tigris refused to
rise during the normal period of inunda-
tions; how the god then told him in a dream
that he wished to be established, a clear
reference to the preurban period when
nomads and farmers would consecrate a
forest or a mountain or a cavern to the gods
in return for the use of the remaining land.

When this land was made to carry cities, and


the cities became magnificent, a new house
for the gods had to be undertaken. We en-
counter similar feelings in the nomads who
Temple XVI
below

Fig. 3.15 Eridu (Iraq), ground plans of superim-


posed temples: (A) Temple XVII, ca. 5000 B.C.; F O 5 10 20 40
(B) Temple XVI, ca. 4900 B.C.; (C) Temple VII, ca.
I

I I I
I

I I
1

3800 B.C.
MO 5 15

58
Fig. 3.16a Warka (Erech or Uruk, Iraq), "White
Temple," present state.

^^^^^dfc^*^
fj/^^'f^ '-^^T^ j^f^

^:r /2k- 'fei - -

F O
1
10 50 100 150 Fig. 3.16b Warka, "White Temple," 3500-3000
axonometric drawing of ziggurat with tem-
I I I

B.C.;
ple plan.
M O 10 25 50

59

iM
.

A PLACE ON EARTH

now an architectural environment,


lived in 1 Sanctuary
as in the Old Testament; King
reflected 2. Courtyard
David, to obliterate the deplorable contrast Altar
between his luxury and God's houseless- Hearth
ness ("See now dwell in an house of ce-
I
Kilns
Basin
dar, but the Ark dwelleth within curtains."
Vessel
II Samuel 7:2) announces the founding of
8. Table(s)
a temple that would be a permanent sanc-
9. Platform
tuary for the hitherto portable, peripatetic
Tabernacle.
But what form should the house of god
take? Cudea was given appropriate instruc-
tions. He then alerted his people to gather
materials. The city was purified. At the site
of the future temple, the soil was swept
away until native rock was reached; offer-
ings were laid out; the foundation trenches
were filled with purified earth. Then the
piling began. The king himself and his fam-
ily led the community in this ritual of la-
bor. A later Sumerian relief from Ur de-
picts King Ur-Nammu's involvement in
temple architecture. (Fig. 3.20) At the top,
the king is pouring libations before an en-
throned deity who is shown holding meas-
uring rod and line. In the next register, the
king is carrying builders' tools on his

shoulders pick and compasses and mor-
tar basket
assisted by a priest and led by
the god. Below this relief the construction
of the temple was begun; a ladder remains
from the otherwise destroyed scene. We
have a late cuneiform tablet that testifies to
the king's active role.

The Lord Marduk commanded me concerning


Etemenanki, the staged tower of Babylon . . . that
I should make its foundations secure in the
bosom and make its sum-
of the nether world,
mit like the heavens. ... caused baked bricks I

to be made. As it were the rains from on high


which are measureless or great torrents, caused I

streams of bitumen to be brought by the canal


Arahtu. ... took a reed and myself measured
I

the dimensions. . my Lord Marduk


. . For I

bowed my neck, I my robe, the sign of


took off
my royal blood, and on my head bore bricks I

and earth.

The word "staged" is accurate. In con-


trast to the ziggurat at Warka with its single
stair, later ziggurats were usually towers

Fig. 3.17 Khafaje (Iraq), ground plans of Sin tem-


ples: (A) Temple II, ca. 3000 b.c; (B) Temple V,
ca. 2900 B.C.; (C) Temple VIII, ca. 2750 B.C.

60
THE RISE OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

been a ladder of humble reverence, a way


to come into contact with the superhuman
power that held the secret of their destiny.
To the Jews who arrived on the scene with
their own jealous Lord God, it was sacrile-
gious. The ziggurat of Babylon became, for
them, the Tower of Babel, an overweening
structure that God had no alternative but to
interrupt. (Fig. 3.22)

Palaces
This view of the Tower of Babel is of course
that of a rival religion that sees in the ruins
of the culture it is displacing the just de-
serts of a wanton community. But internal
re-evaluation of the ziggurat in the course
of Mesopotamian history is also evident.
From being the undisputed center of the
city at the beginning, the ziggurat in time
lost some physical prominence to other fo-
cal points of the urban fabric, the principal
one being the palace of the king. At one
Fig. 3.18 Khafaje, Oval Temple, ca. 2650-2350 B.C.
reconstruction view.
end of Mesopotamian history, the king lives
in the precinct of the god and may in fact

be the same person as the high priest. At


the other end, during the Assyrian period,
the ziggurat becomes a mere adjunct to the
with several distinct terraces. The most fa- casing to drain the interior and prevent de- king's palace, which now completely dom-
mous among them, the great ziggurat of Ur- formed walls. The color was supplied by inates the cityscape. (Fig. 3.23)

Nammu at Ur (ca. 2000 B.C.), was a stepped tiles. The earliest trace we have of this re- The stages of such a development are not
pyramid in three stages. (Fig. 3.21) The core finement is at Warka. Glazed bricks come clear, if indeed they constituted a method-

was of mud-brick, and the thick facing of much later; they were widely used in the ical process. At Ur, the famous ziggurat of

baked brick was set in bitumen mortar. The Assyrian period, the technique having been the Third Dynasty described above had
approach was on the northeast side. Here, brought over from Egypt where it had long
three staircases led upward: one of them been known.
set at right angles to the building, the other Once the ziggurat and its temple were
two leaning against the wall. They con- complete, the remaining question was:
verged in a great gateway from which a Would the god be pleased with it and come
Fig. 3.19 A ziggurat as depicted on an Assyrian
single flight of stairs ran straight up to the to reside there? It is the anxiety that King relieffrom the palace of Assurbanipal of Nine-
door of the temple. None of the lines of the Solomon feels when the Temple he had veh, seventh century b.c. (Fragments in the Brit-
ziggurat is straight. The sloping walls are, built was ready for use: "But will God in- ish Museum, London, and the Louvre, Paris)
in addition, slightly convex. The wall line on deed dwell on earth? Behold the heaven
the ground plan is similarly curved out- and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee:
ward. These calculated diversions were in- how much less this house that I have
tended to correct the look of stiffness and builded" (I Kings 8:27). The hope is in rig-
enervation that strict rectilinearity tends to orously upheld ritual. One false step on the
induce in structures of this size. part of the people or their rulers, any gross
We must complete the picture of the irreverence or neglect of the proprieties,
Mesopotamian ziggurat with color and some and god will abandon the city. The Moun-
vegetation. At Ur, it seems evident that the tain of Heaven, venerated and ascended in
upper terraces were planted with trees that humility, will remain a beneficent tower
formed verdant hanging gardens. Since ex- reaching up toward divinity. Used for sin-
posed soil at these points allowed damp- ister purposes, to reach the gods rather than
ness to seep into the core causing the mud- reach up to them, it will turn into a tower
narrow slits or "weep-holes"
bricks to swell, of enormity. To the inhabitants of Meso-
were regularly cut through the baked-brick potamian cities, the ziggurat had always

61
A PLACE ON EARTH

Fig. 3.21 Ur, ziggurat of Ur-Nammu; reconstruc-


tion drawing.

Fig. 3.22 Pieter Brueghel, The Tower of Babel,


1563. (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

Fig. 3.20 Stele of Ur-Nammu (2113-2096 B.C.),


from Ur. (UniversityMuseum, University of
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia)

within its two residential


precinct walls
buildings. (Fig. 3.14)The larger, called Gig-
Par-Ku, seems to have been a priestly resi-
dence; it is just below the walled enclo-
sure of the ziggurat proper. The other, fur-
ther east, is the royal palace, a square
building divided three distinct sec-
into
tions. At Mari, about 1750 b.c, the propor-
tions are reversed. The palace, an enor-
mous building of some 260 rooms and
courts, overwhelms the ziggurat complex
to its southeast.
The plan at Mari is organized around
three main courts. (Fig. 3.24) The first of
these, capable of holding hundreds of

62

"wn
THE RISE OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

Fig. 3.23 Sketch plans showing the relationship


\
6m\ .,llm
of ziggurat and royal palace: (A) at Ur, ca. 2000
B.C.; (B) at Assur, ca. 1800 B.C.; (C) at Assur, ca.
1200 B.C.; and (D) at Khorsabad, ca. 700 B.C. The j j
Cv'-''
''Vm/emfSmi'
lighter hatching indicates palaces; the darker
8m'^
hatching, ziggurats. /
4nrv
/' *. / / ,.- /

/ s^x '\
\ '\ ~"N
--
;
.10rn\ ^-^^rxW \
--',, - -s\\\\ \
/' /'
Jlrri.-''''

ISm---'
///I V

--,9m

1 Courtyard
2 Audience Hall
3 Royol Chapel
4 Archives
5 Throne Room "5'^ .''6rT< ,''7m
6 Courtyord
Royol Aportments
F O 50 100 200 300 600
MO 25 50 100 200

Fig. 3.24 Mari (Tel Hariri, Syria), royal palace, ca.


1750 B.C.; ground plan.

functionaries and petitioners, was ap- palace. Around a small court, with walls
proached through a devious, nonaxial path painted to imitate marble encrustation, it is

from the only outside gate at the northeast possible to recognize bedrooms of lavish
corner. Semicircular stairs on the south side design and the king's own hall. Adjacent to
of this vast court led up to what may have these royal apartments was a service wing
been an audience hall. The public sector of containing kitchens and bathrooms (one of
the palace centered around the second them displays two terra-cotta tubs and a
court, immediately to the west. Its walls "Turkish" lavatory), as well as a school for
were decorated with paintings represent- scribes with rows of benches still intact.
ing scenes of sacrifice and the investiture It is not difficult to see the layout of the
of the king of Mari by the goddess Ishtar. palace as an elaboration of the private
The palace archives were kept in a room house. The organizing principle of a cen-
between the two courts. On the south side tral court surrounded by rooms is the same;
of the second court was the Throne Room so is the tightly sealed periphery with the
approached by a magnificent set of stairs. single door from the outside and the non-
F 500 1000 2000
The private living quarters of the royal fam- axial entrance path. (Fig. 3.11) But the size,
M O 100 250 500 750 ily occupied the northwest section of the mixed program, and security of the palace

63
A PLACE ON EARTH

limit the comparison. Hundreds of rooms


have to have access to natural light. The
movement of servants and troups must be
kept separate from the royal path; the king's
intimate life must be separate from his
public presence. And in its frame, the pal-
ace must be able to accommodate a variety
of functions related to the king's double
existence. as a family man and head of state.
In all this, the palace behaves as a micro-
cosm of the city, with its walls, residences,
temples, offices, schools, barracks, work-
shops, and so on. But it has little of the
physical dynamism of the city-form, little of
its vital untidiness, little of the social flexi-
bility of streets. It is a regimented city, a vast
rectangle divided and subdivided into units
of orthogonal geometry, large and small,
open and closed, ornate and plain. And the
strict relation on paper of one cluster of

these units to the next bespeaks a hieratic


code of behavior on the part of the thou-
sands of users within. (Figs. 3.10, 3.24)
The next complication in the relationship
of ziggurat and palace was that the ziggurat
multiplied. At the Assyrian capital of Assur
the main ziggurat had stood alone next to
the Old Palace. But a double temple to Anu Citddei Wall

and Hadad (Heaven and Storm) between Platform


Roycl Palace
two square ziggurats rose in time next to Platform
Palace of ttie Crown Prince C)
the larger New Palace. (Fig. 3.23, B and C) Temple(s)
Ziggurat
What is more, the ziggurat in Assyrian hands Entrance Court
Court of Horror
became hard to climb. Means other than Ttirone Room
Ramp Up
stairsand ramps began to be employed, at 10 Unexcavated

the cost of the symbolism of the Ladder of F O 500 1000 2000 3000 4O0O MILE

Heaven. The two ziggurats of Anu and MO lOO 500 lOOO 1500
Hadad were presumably accessible only
from the temple roof. At the same time, the Fig. 3.25a Khorsabad (the ancient Dur Sharrukin,
classic hierarchy of a deity as the overlord Iraq), Assyrian city founded by Sargon II (721-705
of the city and the king as the steward of B.C.); plan.

the divine estate had been upset as early as


2000 B.C. Some kings, for example those of
the Third Dynasty of Ur, were deified in
their own lifetime and were adopted as pa-
tron deities of vassal cities. bastion that served as a platform for the general layout to that at Mari. The admin-
The final debasement of the ziggurat oc- royal palace. being sur-
Rather than istrative court of honor is here at the top of
curs at Khorsabad. This city was a royal As- rounded by the fabric of his city, the king the plan, with the great Throne Room on
syrian foundation, begun in 706 b.c, and now had his back to the city walls. The cit- the The entrance court is associated
left.

abandoned, unfinished, shortly afterward. adel that contained the palace, ostensibly a with a number of temples grouped along
(Fig. 3.25) It covered 2.5 square kilometers point of last defense against an outside en- the west side. They were all served by a
(almost one square mile). There were two emy as the ziggurat complex once had single ziggurat that was like no other ex-
arched gates on each side of the square, been, can also be construed as a ring of ample of this Mesopotamian building type.
guarded by stone demons in the form of protection around the ruling monarch to Small and laced with recesses and crenel-
human-headed bulls. On the northwest side ward against internal uprisings. lations, it looked more like a fancy reli-
one of the gates had been replaced by a The palace at Khorsabad is similar in quary than the robust manmade mountain

64

wr^ "T'w*!
THE RISE OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN ASIA

were revetted with stone slabs carved in


relief. They showed the king and his cour-

tiers, over life size, all facing toward the


Throne Room. Once admitted through one
of its three doors, the petitioner or ambas-
sador stood in the brilliantly painted space
of an oblong room. The throne, as at Mari,
was set against one of the narrow walls. Its

base was of stone and carved upon it, as a


suitable warning to those within who might
contemplate rebellion and to enemies
without, was a relief showing King Sargon,
the founder of Khorsabad, "in his war
chariot above the bodies of the slain while
soldiers piled up pyramids of heads before
him."
The Throne Room at Khorsabad is a fit-

ting testimonial to the warlike Assyrian kings


who had ruthlessly forged an empire out of
the city-states of Mesopotamia and struck
terroramong neighboring people. With the
slow erosion of urban integrity and of the
allegiance of the city to a single superior
deity, the palace as a building type arrives

Fig.3.25b Khorsabad, citadel with royal palace; here at its grim apogee. It had started out
reconstruction view. as an accessory to the ziggurat the ad-
ministrative headquarters and official resi-

dence of a pious king who supervised grain


distribution, the maintenance of dikes and
canals, and the preventive rites against
floods and outside attacks. But the palace
of the cities of the plain. A continuous ramp the square to the main gate of the palace. grew the expense of the ziggurat, as an
at
wound around the exterior, from the base One passed through it, crossed the first increasingly autocratic sovereign ruled
to the summit. court, and through a small passage at the heavy-handedly over both church and state.
The approach was through
to the palace northeast corner was ushered into the court And it developed, finally, into a theater of

the city, past the citadel gate, and across a of honor. This was an impressive, indeed absolute power and intimidation, the sym-
large open square. A broad ramp which terrifying, waiting room for those who had bol of a city whose piety now existed in the
could accommodate chariots ran up from been granted a royal audience. The walls shadow of a fierce war machine.

Further Reading

J. R. Bartlett, Jericho (Guilford, Surrey: Lutter- (Bloomington: Indiana LIniversity Press, S. Lloyd, H. W. Muller, and R. Martin, Ancient
worth Press, 1982). 1959). Architecture: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete,
M. A. Beck, Atlas of Mesopotamia (London and S. Giedion, The Eternal Present: The Beginnings Greece (New York: Abrams, 1974).
Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons, of Architecture, vol. II (New York: Pan- A. Parrot, Tower of Babel, trans. E. Hudson (New
1956). theon, 1964). York: Philosophical Library, 1955).
H. Frankfort, The Art and Architecture of the An- J. Hawkes, ed.. Atlas of Ancient Archeology (New C. L. Woolley, Excavations at Ur (London: E.

cient Orient (Harmondsworth and Balti- York: McGraw-Hill, 1974). Benn, 1955).
more: Penguin, 1970). P. LampI, Cities and Planning in the Ancient Near
The Birth of Civilization
, in the Near East East (New York: Braziller, 1968).

65
II

'1W^,0^^

Abu Simbel (Egypt), rock-cut temples, ca. 1250 B.C.


THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

The Land of Egypt


The ancient Egyptians were in all likelihood ter the Protoliterate Period, that is, about gods and goddesses, each with his or her
an indigenous people, though they were not 3000 B.C. By time
this some basic schemes own geographical sphere of authority, the
as isolated from the rest of the Mediterra- had already surfaced in the vernacular id- royal cult in the Old Kingdom had stood out
nean world as it has sometimes been iom of reeds and mud for example, the as the national religion that absorbed col-
claimed. From the beginning they traded battering of walls and plant-based up- legiate divinity and transmitted its hope to
with the communities of Western Asia rights that will become standard features the masses. Now the pharaoh had to ac-
across the Sinai Peninsula, and with the of the monumental architecture to follow. knowledge the power of some priestly fra-
Libyan tribes to the west across the Delta. One of the most characteristic aspects of ternities to act as intermediary between the
They imported cedarwood from Lebanon Egyptian culture is conservatism, or rather people and the protagonists of the official
and exploited the gold mines of Nubia the balance it always sustains between in- pantheon, headed by the sun-god Re and
(Ethiopia) to the south. novation and tradition. the trinity of the netherworld, Osiris, his
As Mesopotamia, the story begins with
in During the Early Dynastic Period in Mes- wife Isis, and their son Horus. The king's
the village life of farming and animal hus- opotamia, Egyptian building displayed great funerary settings came to accommo-
first

bandry, in the highlands above the Nile advances. Beginning with impressive pal- date his divine colleagues more generously
Valley, which was transformed in time into aces and tombs in brick which leaned on and, in time, their own temples loomed
a sophisticated pattern of river settlements the vernacular idiom and aggrandized it, the large on the banks of the Nile.
based on controlled The politi-
irrigation. country developed an articulate stone ar- The actual flourishing of monumental
cal authority that rose in the Land between chitecture, the great examples of which, at temple architecture in Egypt, as distinct from
the Rivers to oversee the network of canals Saqqara and Giza, we soon will be looking environments of royal burial and attendant
and dykes functioned through a number of at. Egyptologists refer to this stretch of time practices, belongs to the so-called New
independent cities. Neolithic village life as the Archaic (or Thinite) Period, roughly Kingdom, especially between 1600 and 1300
along the Nile developed instead into two 3000 to 2665 B.C., and its sequel the Old B.C. (Fig. 4.20) This period opened with the
broad polities: Lower Egypt, which in- Kingdom, down to about 2150 B.C. It is expulsion of an alien invasion force, the
cluded the whole Delta area until the marked by the emergence and consolida- Hyksos people, out of the Delta, which in-
neighborhood of Memphis, and Upper tion of absolute kingship. The indestructi- volved Egypt in a new policy of conquest.
Egypt, southward from this point as far as ble monuments that still tower over the A vast Egyptian empire came to embrace
Aswan. Each had a separate ruler and a riverscape south of modern Cairo were in- much of theSudan and subject states in

separate capital Pe (Buto) in Lower Egypt tended to commemorate the rule of the Palestine and Syria.
and Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) in LJpper Egypt. pharaoh, divine and all-powerful, and to There is no neat correlation in the devel-
(Fig. 4.1) Then, at the start of recorded his- ensure the perpetuity of his cult. (Fig. 4.10) opment of the first two literate cultures of
tory. King Menes of Upper Egypt invaded This unchallenged central power was the Near East; no historical coincidence of
the north and unified the country, an event dissipated toward the latter part of the third their high points and nadirs. In the struc-
which made a deep impression on the col- millennium, but was reinstituted, after a ture of their physical setting, in the build-
lective memory of the people of the region spell of political and social chaos, in a more ing materials they used, in political orga-
and became the pivot of political, and hence tempered guise. In the period called Mid- nization and attitudes toward life and death,
architectural, symbolism. dle Kingdom, about 2250 to 1570 B.C., power the two regions are also not comparable.
This unification and the setting up of a was shared by provincial governors, or no- Although both were river environments
capital at Memphis coincide with the very marchs, and the priesthood of important disciplined early by a network of canals and
end of what we had called in the last chap- deities. In the bewildering crowd of local dykes, Egypt's single river was never tur-

67
\ 1

Saqqara,^V\j Hellop_
Memphis;;^ ^ Caircs'^

Dahshur-
Mel d u m ^/ ,#'"'"

^' EzKX ^
% SZ
I
\

X ^
^^F==^\
^ A\
\
1
V
'-\ \

-Karnak
\ S
Luxor 5r \ r^
\\ I

S -:

\>,\ 1
'-^\ \
f
Nms'C-
\s
\Aswar
^e r-S
L/\
^ s
\
:.

. r^
\
v/ -# -^i
-'
5 (
n

S \
.^. t 1 A \
^.' 5 vA I

\ ri
r 'g
fe^ft^
g -^r-^
\
1
.;^"- L
1
\ /
>) /
(
1 S
\

\
n
~
\

\
\

I
\
A\^^
Mecca
-.

-
'..

.-i

--=
"-
\ ^K
\

/ f f
i-,
'

\s
-^ I ' f- /
f- v
{'
" \
\
\

\A -^^ \\
i\
-=
s>-.
'
= S\^ s
\ *^" ^ J-'^V <
i \

Fig. 4.1 Map: Ancient Egypt.

68
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

bulent like the Tigris and Euphrates. It was


a temperate, steady line of water, naviga-
ble throughout, and subject to unfailingly
1.

2.
3.
4
Pyramid of Sesostris
Heb Sed Chapel
Valley Temple
Worker's Town
\

\ /
I

&
regular and benign flooding. From July to
October the low-lying banks were inun- 2 D \
L.
dated, the waters leaving their deposit of
rich black silt which could be sowed with
little plowing. This narrow
Black Land, was
strip of valley,
rigidly divided into fields,
the w /"
V ^-:'

/
the boundaries of which had to be re-
established after every period of flooding. MILE O I.O

Egypt's early mastery of geometry and its


KM O 1.0
affinity for the right angle (curved walls or
circular buildings are almost unknown in the
ancient architecture of Egypt) owe a debt to
this annual survey. '^
?m^MK-^^'
The Nile in fact was the great axis. For 500
miles it stretched, the country's liquid spine,
a band of blue and arable green hemmed
in by parallel lines of cliff in Upper Egypt,

and fanning out further north to form the


broader frame of the Delta. Beyond, to east
and west was the Red Land, the desert,
death. Except for the Delta folk, most
Egyptians knew no circular horizon. Things
ran along the Nile, mostly north and south,
or at right angles to it, in the direction of
the rising and setting sun. Orthogonal
^rt^TrJ^
planning came naturally both in the field
nn- rllLL
division of the Black Land and in the de-
sign of cities. We have only to compare the
IJ:
^35
^
tangled layout of later Sumerian Ur with the
strictlyorthogonal "pyramid city" of Se-
sostris (1897-1878 B.C.) at El Kahun, its
II

main streets running precisely north-south,


to grasp the difference between Mesopo-
tamian and Egyptian order. (Figs. 3.10, 4.2)
This difference is between an organism that
grew loosely through time in response to F O lOO 300 600
patterns of mixed use, and the predeter- 200
M O 50 100
mined plan of El one
Kahun, laid down at
time, with standardized buildings grouped
into special zones
brick row houses, often

Fig. 4.2 El Kahun (Lower Egypt), the workers' town


at the pyramid site of King Sesostris II (1897-1878
B.C.). Top, site plan, with pyramid indicated at the
far left and the valley temple with its causeway
at the far right, just below the town; middle, plan
of the excavated section; bottom, a detail plan
of the northwestern strip, showing workers'

housing to the left the darker lines indicate

house types and the ampler quarter for gov-
ernment officials to the right.
M O

69
a

A PLACE ON EARTH

back to back, for the workers and crafts- northeast slope. At Karnak, the temple of direct imitation or in symbolic shorthand,
men, a quarter of large mansions for gov- Amon marshals all its component units the architecture of ordinary residences,
ernment officials, and the enclosed com- along a straight path, and a cross-axis that palaces, and even Funerary art,
city walls.
pound for the king next to the northern takes off halfway down the middle of the in a literal-minded way, provided magical

wall. south flank leaves the precinct of this cen- replicas of the buried person's wants and
This is not to say that Egypt was without tral group to line up with the Mut complex possessions.
its organic urban clusters, especially in older to the south. Even within the experience of In this, too, Egypt is very different from

cities like Thebes or Memphis, of which a single temple unit, Khafaje on the one Mesopotamia. When King Ur-Nammu dies,
unhappily very little has survived. But geo- hand and Luxor on the other, the headlong there is sorrow and weeping throughout the
metric master plans are unique to Egypt at course of an Egyptian axis is distinctive. land. The "wail of Sumer" reaches him after
this early date. There were the so-called (Figs. 3.18, 4.18) Not only is the Mesopo- many days in the dim and sad netherworld.
pyramid cities created by individual phar- tamian axis bent, but the terminal sanctu- The walls of Ur which he started are left
aohs, like Sesostris house the work
II, to ary space, an oblong transversely laid in unfinished; the new palace is unpurified;
force of their burial complex, the priest- relation to the directional line of the ap- his wife is left behind and he can no longer
hood of the royal cult, and tenant farmers; proach toward it, slows down the momen- press her to his bosom. The Egyptian Book
and the string of planned fortress towns tum of the sequence. At Luxor we are pulled of the Dead has no such worries about
built in Nubia by the kings of the Twelfth deeper and deeper toward the core of di- death.
Dynasty. The earliest hieroglyphic sign for vinity as the spaces along the axis constrict
"province," or nome, was a rectangle di- beyond the courts and the level rises,
vided into four by intersecting lines; the heightening through physical means the
sign for "town" showed a circular enclo- wonder and privilege of heading toward the Fig. 4.3 Amarna (Upper Egypt), the new capital
of King Akhenaten (1379-1362 B.C.), Eighteenth
sure around an orthogonal street system or holy of holies.
Dynasty; diagrammatic plan of layout, showing
a dominant cross-axis. Even a seemingly In one sense, everything along the banks
the relationship to the Nile and the course of the
random arrangement like the capital of King was linked to everything else by the Nile
main streets.
Akhenaten, Amarna, reflects its sensitivity axis. That was the major highway of the
toward the river axis by having three main country. It brought together the villages of
arteries that run in line with the bank curve. Upper Egypt and the cities of the Delta; it

(Fig. 4.3) carried northward the granite of far-off As-


The linear stretch of the land is perhaps wan, and the fine limestone of Tura upriver
evoked in one other aspect of the built en- to southern building sites; and for the lowly
vironment. Egyptian design conceived of fellah it provided food and also the build-
major architectural programs as a series of ing material for his house and boatmaking
episodes along a predetermined path. The
needs reeds and plants, and silt for daub-
pyramids of Ciza appear today like three ing walls and striking brick. The river's
splendid objects in mid-space at the desert majestic calm and the reliable periodicity of
edge. In fact, they were the culmination of its behavior must have projected a settled,

an architectural sequence that began at the eternal order. The Nile flooded when it was
west bank. New Kingdom temples were expected to, several crops were raised, then
themselves channels of passage like the came the dry season, and then, with un-
river along which they stood. (Figs. 4.20, failing regularity, the Nile flooded again, as
4.22) The great pylons may have encapsu- it had for centuries, and the cycle was re-

lated this correspondence by their form peated. Such ageless patterns have no
central trough above the entrance and foreseeable end and present no choices. It
massive flanking towers, like the rock cliffs is not surprising that the Egyptians of an-

that bounded
the river valley. The clus- tiquity should stake their all on a belief in
tered columns of the courtyards and halls, unruffled stability, on a world view in which
with their plant-inspired capitals, conjured death was not a final thing but merely the
up Nile groves. passage to another region where, speaking
Once again, the comparison with Meso- not too metaphorically, the Nile flooded and
potamian temple precincts is instructive. crops were raised and the dry season came
At the ziggurat compound
(Figs. 3.14, 4.19) and people did what they always did and
of Ur, anumber of independent buildings, had about them what they always had: the
each with its own boundary wall, is grouped pharaoh according to his station, the hum-
tidily, but with no unifying axes. The zig- ble fellah according to his. One's tomb was
2 MILES
O
gurat itself has three approach stairs that like one's house, but built to last for eter-
meet at a single gateway some way up the nity; its forms logically recalled, through 2 KILOMETERS

70

sr '^^^^fi
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

O King N! You are not gone dead, you are gone to function normally forever. And no corpse remarkable in several ways. (Fig. 4.5) It is

alive . you go in, you come out while your


. .
was more privileged in this respect than that largerand more elaborate than any before
heart is glad in the favor of the Lord of Gods.
Your soul
If
of the god-king.
it a vast scheme, and exceptionally not
so happens that you live again. . . .

organized on the Egyptian principle of axial


will not be kept away from your body. You . . .

sequence. Its architecture develops the


receive what is upon earth. You have water, you
most symbolism of the pharaoh as
insistent
breathe the air, you drink to your heart's con- The Burial of Kings
the sole ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt:
tent.
At first, after the unification of Egypt and as there are twin tombs, double-court build-
Not surprisingly, for the first fifteen a consequence of it, the pharaoh was given ings, matching mock palaces. And all this
hundred years of its existence as a high a double burial. As lord of Upper Egypt, he is done in stone the first interpretation of
culture, Egypt was obsessed with the pres- was buried symbolically at Abydos, 300 miles the brick, timber, and plant forms of Egyp-
ervation and provisioning of the dead body. south of Cairo, a site sacred to the god of tian architecture in the hard medium of Tura
It lavished its finest efforts to that end, on the Underworld, Osiris, and the ancestral limestone.
the theaters of the afterlife. It put up nnon- home of the early kings. The actual body The structure actually constitutes a tech-
umental tombs, often built of lasting stone was laid to rest at Saqqara. nological revolution. This prodigy of ma-
(which, in contrast once more to Mesopo- The cenotaphs of the early pharaohs at sonry construction seems to have no par-
tamia, was plentiful), and decorated them Abydos consisted of a subterranean cham- ents. Tell-tale features announce the infancy
prodigiously. Much Egyptian ritual, as well ber roofed in timber and topped with a of technique. The blocks used are small
its
as the development of a masonry architec- heap of sand contained within a brick shell. throughout, more in the measure of brick
ture unsurpassed in technical skill and the (Fig. 4.4) Stelai were set up outside to mark than cut stone. Uprights, molded in emu-
evasive ingenuity of its design, was moti- the place for offerings, and beyond a low lation of tree-trunk pillars or bundles of
vated by the belief that the corpse must be precinct wall the king's family and mem- reeds, are not freestanding but always cau-
spared disturbance and its material needs bers of the court were buried in mastabas, tiously engaged to walls, and like them built
must be supplied, so that it could continue small tumulus graves with a casement of of regular masonry courses rather than of
brick. At Saqqara the royal tombs were more stacked up drums.
complicated. The burial pit, cut into native Even so, the achievement was epochal
rock, comprised, in addition to the burial and was credited by antiquity to the archi-
chamber, a number of subsidiary rooms tect Imhotep. His name is inscribed in one
holding the owner's valuable possessions. of the rock-cut galleries of the stepped
On this system was erected a large rectan- pyramid where he is referred to as being
gular structure, as much as 9 meters (30 feet) "first after the king of Upper and Lower
high, with an intricately panelled brick ex- Egypt. He was revered later for his great
"

terior coated with white lime-stucco and wisdom as an astronomer, magician, and
painted with geometric designs. This su- healer, and as healer he was deified. In this
perstructure enclosed rooms where sup- we have one more fact that sets Egypt apart
plies were stored for the use of the de- from Mesopotamia. We know of no Me-
ceased. The recessed exterior and the layout sopotamian architect by name. The credit
of the rooms were meant to stand for the for conceiving public buildings and for su-
Fig. 4.4a Abydos (Upper Egypt), royal tumulus actual palace of the king; consonant with pervising their construction went to the
tomb of First Dynasty (ca. 3100-2890 B.C.); re-
the old Lower Egypt custom, the king was king. In Egypt, the execution of sacred or
construction drawing.
considered buried under the floor of his prestigious public works elevated the of-
house. fice of the architect instead of forcing it into
Two other features make their appear- obscurity. We know something of his
ance during the 250-year development of working methods from a handful of archi-
these early dynastic tombs at Saqqara: a tectural drawings that have survived. The
Fig. 4.4b Saqqara (Lower Egypt), mortuary com-
plex of Queen Herneith, First Dynasty; recon- small mortuary temple on the north side, design process would appear to have com-
struction drawing. and a wooden boat alongside the tomb to bined a simple overall geometric system and
carry the pharaoh across the heavens. For the use of a set module to derive the di-
everyday he would accompany the sun-god mensions of the building.
Re on his voyage from east to west and at The stepped pyramid which contained
night in the opposite direction, through the Zoser's body stood on high ground in the
Underworld. middle of a vast rectangular terrace about
550 by 275 meters (1,800 by 900 feet). The
Zoser's Pyramid Complex high wall with recessed paneling around the
The Saqqara tomb of one early pharaoh, terrace and the bastions that imitate tow-
Zoser, that dates from about 2680 B.C., is ered gateways make it probable that Im-

71
I Enclosing Wol
2 Entrance Gate
3 Colonnaded Entry Hall
4. Grand Court
5 Southern Mastaba and
Offering Room
6 Heb Sed Court
7 House of ttie Soutti
8 House of the North
9 Court of the Serdab
10. Serdab
Mortuary Temple TgruuuiniuuuLruuijiiuuiiuuuuui, ^
12 Step Pyramid
13 Sarcophagus Chamber
14 Mastaba (original)
15 Magazines

F O lOO 300 600 F O 100 400

M O 50 lOO 200 M 50 lOO 150

Fig. 4.5 Saqqara, mortuary complex of King Zo-


ser. Third Dynasty, ca. 2680 b.c; (a) oblique view;
(b) partial plan.

72
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

Fig. 4.6 Zoser complex, entry hall (no. 3 on Fig.

4.5); reconstruction drawing.

hotep wanted to conjure the walled city of


Memphis, not just the royal palace.
The only real entrance is at the southeast
corner of the enclosure. It leads into a long
corridor lined with two rows of half-col-
umns engaged to spur walls. (Fig. 4.6) The
Fig.4.7 Zoser complex, dunnmy chapel in Heb-
columns carry a stone ceiling, cut to re-
Sed Court (no. 6 on Fig. 4.5).
semble rounded logs, which rises higher
than the roof of the flanking compartments
allowing for clerestory slits. This is proba-
bly the earliest known case of clerestory
lighting.The shafts of light here may have This secondary tomb may have repre- A second important ceremony, the re-
fallenon statues set in the compartments sented the usual royal cenotaph at Abydos, enactment of the king's coronation, is pro-
representing, possibly, head deities of the or else the actual burial place of the king's vided for lower court, north of the en-
in a
nomes or provinces of Egypt, or Zoser entrails, which were customarily removed trance corridor. The area is entered skirt-

himself, or perhaps double statues of Zo- from the corpse before mummification. Or ing an unusual, curved wall. On either side
ser andnome-god. At any rate, the num-
a it may have been a dummy tomb for the of an oblong court stand dummy chapels
ber of these compartments is so close to the symbolic sacrifice of the king during the dedicated to the nome-gods of Upper and
standard number of forty-two provinces that Heb-Sed, a jubilee festival that celebrated Lower Egypt. (Fig. 4.7) As in real life, so too
it has been suggested that the central space the reconsecration of his reign. This festi- in his death the king would have to obtain

between the colonnades stood for the Nile, val included a race that proved the king's their consent, one by one, for a new term
with the sudden doubling of the columns renewed vigor and was probably associ- of office; he would then be crowned, on
at the end opposite the entrance evoking ated with fertility. He ran it accompanied by separate daises at the short ends of the
the spread of the Delta. "the priest of the souls of Nekhen," namely, court, with the cone-shaped white crown
Beyond the corridor lies a large court, at the prehistoric kings of Upperand Egypt, of Upper Egypt and the caplike red crown
the southwest corner of which is a building carrying a flail, the implement that is used of Lower Egypt.
of nearly solid masonry; probably served
it to thrash grain. Two hoof-shaped markers A pair of smaller courts further north
as the offering room for a large mastaba in this court may have had something to do stood before two buildings representing the
hidden within the western enclosure wall. with this ritual race. king's "white" and "red" palaces. The

73
A PLACE ON EARTH

The stepped pyramid lies to the west of as the staircase of divine ascent, which a
this double palace. Along its north side were spell in thePyramid Texts says was to be laid
the mortuary temple, where the offerings out for the king, "so that he may mount up
were presented, and the serdab, a small to heaven thereby."
room holding a seated statue of Zoser and
built of solid masonry except for two holes The Pyramids of Giza
to enable the image to look out. (Fig. 4.8) To etherialize the staircase and to make the
This statue and others around the complex royal tomb a worthy symbol of the sunlight
were considered reliable substitutes for the that brings Re and his son the pharaoh to-
dead body in the event of its destruction.
gether these aims may have been the
The body lay beneath the pyramid, in a cosmic reasons for the subsequent at-
granite sarcophagus chamber, or rather a tempts, costly and laborious, to transform
shaft, cut through virgin rock and entered Zoser's staged scheme into a true pyramid.
from the top through a circular opening, The process took time and some experi-
initially, a simple stone mastaba was placed mentation. Zoser's Saqqara complex and the
over it. This mastaba, enlarged three times famous pyramids of Giza are separated by
in the course of construction, became the more than a century. In between, transi-
lowest stage of a four-stepped pyramid. tional solutions were tried at Meidum and
Then the pyramid in turn was enlarged to- Dahshur. (Fig. 4.9) An initial stepped pyra-
ward the north and west, and the stages mid at Meidum, 30 miles south of Mem-
increased to six, bringing the total height had its sides filled in at some later
phis,
to 62 meters (204 feet). moment and the whole encased in shining
What prompted the transformation of the
traditional mastaba into this unique pile of
stone? We do not, of course, know for cer-
tain.What is obvious is that the object was
something more than rendering the tomb
4.9 Map: The distribution of pyramids in

securer the desire to monumentalize the
Fig.

Lower Egypt.
tomb, for example, to have it stand out
above the perimeter wall and be scaled
against the expanse of the west bank. But
these six unequal stages also gave a sense
Pyramids of Giza
of climbing, of aspiration, an effect visually
close to the Mesopotamian ziggurat. The
difference obvious and ritually signifi-
is Pyramids of Abusir
Pyramids of Saqqara
cant. At Saqqara there were no managea-
ble stairs for human ascent, and nothing at
Pyramids of Dahshur
the top no shrine or architectural climax
of any sort to be reached. It was a struc-
ture that sublimated the holy person of the
king and lifted him heavenward to the realm

of the sun-god Re.


Fig. 4.8 Statue of King Zoser in serdab (no. 10 in The pharaoh's relationship to Re was in- Pyramid of Meidum
Fig. 4.5); now moved to the Egyptian Museum, timate: that of a son to his father. By the
Cairo.
end of the Old Kingdom, the two were
completely identified with each other. The
main cult center of Re was at Heliopolis, just
north of Memphis, and the most sacred relic
identification of the two buildings is found of his temple there was a pyramid, or cone-
in the attached chapels whose columns shaped stone, the benben, symbolizing the
carry lotus and papyrus capitals, two plants primeval mound on which the sun-god first
which were the emblems of Uoper and revealed himself at the creation. The con-
Pyramid of Kahun
Lower Egypt, respectively. The lacing of lo- clusion inescapable that the stepped
is

tus (or lily) and papyrus plants around a pyramid stood for this mound of creation
stake driven into the ground was a high- whose summit was the resting place of the
point of the coronation ceremony. sun. In addition, it was probably thought of

74
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

**"'-*"'*ili-.'V;

^crr V
.>s..

'*^_^t
Fig. 4.10 Giza (Lower Egypt), pyramids of Chef- 2570-2500 B.C.; aerial view from the north. (See
ren, Cheops, and Mykerinos, Third Dynasty, ca. also Fig. 1.19.)

Tura limestone. Furthermore, the arrange- to this building at the edge of the sown, amid, seems to have been completed in
ment of the subsidiary buildings set the washed and purified; then it would be em- haste after the king's death, with the orig-
pattern for all the later, true pyramids, in- balmed (or perhaps its prior embalmment inal 52 angle of Incline (which later be-

cluding those of Giza. This arrangement was re-enacted) and subjected to a magic rite came standard) reduced abruptly halfway up
now strung along an axis, in contrast to the called "The Opening of the Mouth" that toward the summit.
self-contained layout of Zoser's com- enabled the king to speak.once more and At Giza, there are three separate pyra-
pound. The mortuary temple was moved to to enjoy offerings. At Dahshur, there were mid complexes, the latest, that of Mykeri-
the east side. From here, a sloping cause- two pyramids, probably built by the same nos, being the smallest. (Figs. 4.10, 4.11) The
way reached out to a valley temple closer king, Sneferu. Both were planned from the oldest of the three, that of Cheops, son of
and connected with it by a canal.
to the river start as true pyramids. One was executed Sneferu, has the largest pyramid, 137 me-
The dead body would be brought by boat that way; the other, the so-called Bent Pyr- ters (450 feet) high at present and another

75
IC

A PLACE ON EARTH

10 meters originally. But the pyramid com-


f0m*^miit,u\% %
plex of Chefren is the best preserved, with f
its extraordinary valley temple intact, and,
next to it, the noble form of the Sphinx, a
nf>%
D dAdd OOQoo
recumbent leonine body welded to the
portrait-head of the king wearing the royal nQDOODODD^QD
nooDDDDoapf
M
headdress, perhaps the best-known mon- ""mm,,,,,.
Uftn'iiDDODnHoDl .

ument in the world. Directly in front of the C M



^mm
mnnnnnUn Lti'

Sphinx, to the east, was a temple dedi-


imnTTT
cated to Harmakhis, an aspect of the sun-
god; arranged around a rectangular court
paved in alabaster was a continuous clois-
ter that held twenty-four columns, proba-
bly an allusion to the sun's daily journey,
and two axial niches, east and west, that
marked the journey's axis. The temple was
entered from the east by two doors.
The same entrance scheme holds for the
better-known valley temple next to it. (Fig.
4.12) Between its two doors probably stood
the serdab for the king's statue. Going in,
one encountered, first, a long vestibule and,
then, a T-shaped hall set in an enormously
thick casement of masonry. It, too, had an
alabaster floor which reflected the light that
came in through slits set in the upper parts
of the walls and the underside of the flat
roof. Against the walls stood twenty-three
statues of Chefren, representing the deifi-
cation of individual organs of his body. The
walls, which have a pronounced batter,
were faced with red granite from Aswan,
both inside and out; of granite too were the
massive piers and the flat roof they sup-
ported. The masonry, for once, does not
emulate natural forms or mean anything
else, but is content to display its own su-
perb geometry and the clean abstraction of
its square uprights and lintels.

From here the body was transferred to the


mortuary temple via the covered causeway
built on a rock-spur that bridged the
depression between the Sphinx group and
the pyramid. The walls of the causeway were
sure to have been decorated with paintings
and reliefs whose subjects, judging from a
later example that survived, would include

Fig. 4.11 Ciza, the pyramid group: top, general


site plan; middle, detail plan of the Chefren
complex, showing the mortuary temple, the
causeway, the valley temple, and the Sphinx with 1. Pyramid of Cheops
the attached temple of Harmakhis; bottom, a 2. Pyramid of Chephren
section through the pyramid of Cheops (the 3. Pyramid of Mykerinos
4. Sphinx
dotted lines indicate stages of construction).
5. Canal to River Nile(?)

76
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

tions corbelled forward. It led to the King's


Chamber, the final resting place of Cheops.
Built entirely of granite, this Chamber had
a curious superstructure of five compart-
ments above its flat ceiling, to relieve some
of the weight that must rest upon it.

There are no extant Egyptian records that


tellus of the construction methods of the
Giza pyramids, and no scholarly agreement
on any aspect of the subject. Did the core
rise first, with the aid of a colossal earth
ramp, or a system of such ramps, that rose
with it, and the casing of Tura limestone
applied subsequently, working downward?
Or were the casing stones placed first, be-
veled to the exact incline angle and set on
a truly level plane, and frame then filled
this
with the core blocks? Were
hard stones like
granite quarried at this early age, or only
loose boulders used as they were found
lying on the ground? Did the conveying of
these blocks, a single one of which might
weigh as much as 200 tons, involve wheeled
vehicles at all, or only sledges dragged over
Fig. 4.12 Ciza, valley temple of Chefren; inte-
rior.
a way paved with balks of timber?
Whatever the exact details, the feat was
epic. It and leveling the site
entailed clearing
perfectly on the desert bed; surveying this
site with measuring ropes of palm or flax
fiber to obtain a perfect square; exactly
the actual construction of the project, such found in 1954), three small pyramids for orienting the four faces on the cardinal
as the transport of columns and archi- Cheops' immediate family, a mastaba for his points without the help of magnetic com-
traves, the craftsmen fashioning objects of mother Hetepheres, and to the east and passes; quarrying millions of stone blocks
gold and copper, the tilling of the royal west of the enclosure wall, an orderly cem- and transporting them on the Nile and over
estates, processions of servants bringing etery for his court, the comparatively min- land, sometimes for hundreds of miles;
provisions to the tomb, and hunting and ute mastabas lined in strict parallel rows like lifting them to heights that could exceed 120

fishing. ranks of soldiers at attention. meters (400 feet), and this without pulleys;
The mortuary temple began with a T- The entrance into the pyramid is on the and dressing them meticulously with stone
shaped entrance hall of two separate units; north face, a little east of center. (Fig. 4.11) and copper tools.
an open court followed, which was sur- From here a corridor descends through the Then, there is the question of labor. A
rounded by a cloister, and on its west side core and into native rock. It ends in a regular work force of skilled masons and
five narrow openings, each with a statue of chamber that was to contain the body be- craftsmen and their assistants, housed near
Chefren, could be counted, possibly rep- fore the decision was taken to bury it within the pyramid, was undoubtedly occupied
resenting the five official names assumed the pyramid proper. The Queen's Cham- full-time during the span of construction.
by the king on his accession. Beyond this ber, a misnomer that endures, was con- Additional men were probably levied to
court, which also had statues against the structed for this purpose exactly midway transport the blocks between late July and
broad piers that defined it, only priests between the north and south sides, not far late October, when the Nile flooded and the
could proceed. At the innermost sanctu- from ground level, and the Ascending Cor- population was largely idle. But we should
ary, they would lay down daily offerings for ridor was cut to reach it from the initial refrain from seeing the pyramids as the re-
the sustenance of the royal body that lay corridor, beginning at a point about 18 me- pressive fruit of slave labor. The satisfac-
beyond, in the heart of its stone mountain. ters (60 feet) from the entrance. Then there tion that ancient communities derived from
The pyramid of Chefren is relatively sim- was another change of plan, possibly to working on monuments of propitiating and
ple within. That of Cheops, the Great Pyr- thwart spoilers and thieves. The Grand hopeful faith, like Stonehenge or the zig-
amid as it is known, has a more ingenious Gallery was run as a continuation of the gurats, may be difficult for us to under-
arrangement. It was surrounded by wooden Ascending Corridor, a splendid passage of stand in the age of labor unions. It was real
solar boats in pits {one of these boats was polished limestone that rises in seven sec- nonetheless.

11

A PLACE ON EARTH

'<^.^-

Fig. 4.13 Deir el-Bahri (Upper Egypt), the mor- on the right, ca. 1500, Eighteenth Dynasty; view
tuary temples of Mentuhotep, on the left, ca. 2050 from the northeast.
B.C., Eleventh Dynasty, and Queen Hatshepsut,

And the pyramids of Giza were monu- gious literature carved on the walls of royal the benign land that the universe was
tilled
ments of hope. Today we are fascinated by tombs, the pharaoh is described as using ordered, their well-being and safety
their size, the precision of their masonry the rays of the sun, in place of a staircase, vouched for. To us, stripped of their re-
work that eschews the use of mortar, their to ascend to Re: "I have trodden these thy flective limestone casing and the gold
recondite air. But to the kings of Egypt and rays as a ramp under my feet whereon I overlay of their capstones, the pyramids
the Old Kingdom millions who accepted mount up to my mother Uraeus on the seem relentlessly earthbound, broad-based
them as divine, the pyramids were the sole brow of Re." Heaven strengthened the rays and massive, stone mountains. But to their
efficacious link between themselves and the of the sun, we are told, to facilitate this as- own audience, they were luminous arrows
realm of the gods, not abstract curiosities. cent. emanating from, and leading the way to, the
They reproduced architecturally a cosmic It seems likely, then, that the Giza pyra- sun. More than two thousand years before
truth that called to mind the creation and mids these awesome masses of stone Christ, these shimmering specters of the
its eternal guarantee, the rising and setting were monuments to something immaterial desert that focused the long band of water
sun. In several statements of the Pyramid and gossamer, the rays of the sun. They and field that was Egypt proclaimed the
Texts, the earliest preserved body of reli- were the visible proof for the people who truth of the promise: "I am the light of the

78

Bi
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

world. ... He that believeth in me, though ending the civil war and reuniting the shepsut (1503-1482 B.C.). We are dealing
he were dead, shall never die." country about 2050 B.C. At the time of with a much later period, more than five
Mentuhotep, the capital was at Thebes, and
hundred years in fact a monument of the
the burial compound was within the west New Kingdom. Obviously indebted to its
bank necropolis, situated against the stately older neighbor, it takes the compromised
The Time of the Gods
cliff-bay of Deir el-Bahri. (Figs. 4.13, 4.14) supremacy of the pharaoh a step further.
The Ciza pyramids were never surpassed The valley temple is now gone, as is the The pyramid is absent from the Queen's
nor rivaled, since indeed the theocratic ab- unroofed causeway, lined with statues of funerary complex. The royal person was not
solutism of a Cheops or Chefren remained the king, which once led to the main group less prominent in her own tomb architec-
unreachable. Then, the gods were afraid of below the bluff. The group consisted of ture than the divine presence of Amon.
the king: "He is the Great Mighty One that three elements: a large forecourt planted Partly this has to do with the special cir-
has power over the mighty ones. His . . . with tamarisks and sycamore figs; a ter- cumstances of Hatshepsut's accession. She
duration is eternity and his boundary ever- race, cut out of the rock, on which the was the first woman to wrest the male
lastingness." After the term of the three mortuary temple stood; and a narrower unit throne of Egypt, and she held onto it for
Giza kings, their immediate successors felt further west, made up of a court and a hy- twenty years. This unusual and precarious
it necessary to enhance their pyramid set- postyle hall,which was lodged into the cliff. position created the added urgency to
tings at Abusir with separate sun temples in The temple was a square building faced demonstrate nearness to the gods. Beyond
honor of Re. Laid out like the pyramid externally with colonnades, except on the the search for legitimacy, however, the
complex itself, with a small chapel by the cliff side. It was approached by a massive surrender of royal ascendance to the high
water and a causeway, the main feature of ramp that cut through a double colon- deity of Thebes, and thus, to a degree, also
these temples was an open court contain- nade; the colonnade masked the terrace to his powerful priesthood is unmistaka-
ing an obelisk mounted on a podium, the embankment on the side that faced toward ble. By now the temple precinct at Karnak
sacred symbol of the sun-god. While the the forecourt. In the center of this out- had grown to impressive proportions, as we
integrity of the royal tomb that had spoken ward-looking temple square was a solid willsoon see. The way to the Queen's fu-
at Giza of the oneness of Re and pharaoh stone platform that probably supported a nerary complex started there. (Figure 4.15)
was thus being sundered, the tomb's scale pyramid; or else the platform itself, with- Indeed, the great god issued from his tem-
shrank and the quality of its workmanship out a pyramid, may have emulated a prim- ple during the Feast of the Valley to visit the
deteriorated. At the same time, the mor- itive Theban sanctuary of this form be- mortuary temples of the earthly kings that
tuary temple was growing bigger and was lieved to have been the primeval hill-abode were now lined up along the west bank
beginning to compete with the form of the of the local god Montu. In either case, the facing him. He crossed the river on his
pyramid proper. king's share of this central space was barge as the dead came out of their graves
In the Middle Kingdom, when stability marked only by a cenotaph. His real tomb to greet him. The mortuary temples were
was restored after a century of social tur- lay deep in the cliff, approached by a long built large, to provide for these divine vis-
moil that undid the old order, the pyramid underground tunnel that started in the small its.

came to be engulfed by the mortuary tem- court behind the temple and ran under the Hatshepsut's express instructions to her
ple, if it was there at all. The pyramid did hypostyle hall. The hall was really a re- architectSenmut were to create an earthly
not even hold the real tomb, which had markable room that held eighty octagonal palace for Amon reminiscent of the myrrh
moved elsewhere within the complex. The columns arranged in ten rows. It is the terraces of Punt, the mythical homeland of
emphasis had clearly shifted from the vi- ancestor of the multicolumned transverse the gods. A difficult expedition was sent out
sual glorification of the ruler to the pious hall of the New Kingdom temples in which to Punt, now probably what we know as
rites of the burial cult, and these were now the central row of columns in line with the Somaliland, to bring back myrrh trees for
dominated more and more by the new chief longitudinal axis is taller than the rest to the terraced gardens of "the paradise of
deity of the national religion, the sun-god admit clerestory lighting. Amon." The story of the expedition is de-
Amon who had transcended and absorbed It is of course significant that cliff burials pictedon the walls of the colonnade of the
the authority of Re. By the time of the New had been common in Thebes for local no- second terrace, between a chapel of the
Kingdom, the pyramid was no longer a royal marchs. It is also significant that the entire jackal-headed Anubis, lord of cemeteries,
prerogative. Debased and popularized, it scheme of Mentuhotep was oriented to- and another of Hathor, the cow goddess
continued to dot the cemeteries for cen- ward the newly started temple of Amon associated with both love and death. This
turies, well into the Christian era. across the river in northern Thebes, the colonnade consists of two rows of square
modern Karnak. The king's architecture pillars. Immediately above it is an unusual

Deir el-Bahri hoped to satisfy the provincial aristocracy colonnade, with great painted statues of the
We can appreciate how far funerary archi- and the priesthood of Amon, the partners Queen in the guise of Osiris standing in
tecture had evolved since the days of the of his authority. front of square pillars. It forms the facade
Giza kings if we look at the arrangement of This landscaped, terrace architecture was of the temple proper, a large hypostyle hall
Mentuhotep's tomb, a Middle Kingdom adopted in the larger and better-preserved with an inner sanctuary cut deep into the
prince from Upper Egypt instrumental in undertaking next to it, that of Queen Hat- cliff.

79
Mentuhotep Complex 5. Hatshepsut Complex 11. Key Plan
2. Pyramid (?) S Mortuary 6. Hathor Chapel 12. Hatshepsut Valley Temple
Temple 7 Anubis Chapel a Causeway
3. Passage to Tomb 8. Amon Chapel 13. Mentuhotep Causeway
4. Hathor Chapel of 9 Sun Court a Altar
Tuthmosis III 10. Funerary Chamber

F O 50 100 200 300 600

M O 25 50 lOO 200

Fig. 4.14 Deir el-Bahri, temples of Mentuhotep

and Hatshepsut; axonometric drawing with plans


at selected levels.

80
Fig. 4.15 Thebes (Upper Egypt); general site plan.

MODERM VILLAGE

Karnak Temples 2 Luxor Ternple 3. Deir-el-Bohri 4. Route of Ancient Road

MILE

KILOMETER O
I 2

Fig. 4.16 Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut complex, lower


terrace colonnade; detail.

81
A PLACE ON EARTH

The lowest of the three terraces is also


faced with a colonnade, this one with an
outer row of piers and an inner row of six-
teen-sided columns. (Fig. 4.16) A straight
axis runs through the entire staged layout,
leading from the valley temple to the fore-
court first by means of an avenue of
sphinxes and then by ramps up the first two

terraces. But the effect is hardly one-di-


mensional,. The interest in such terraced
architecture lies in how features sink and
reappear as one climbs along its axis. The
regulating line of Egyptian sequences, often
laid out in the flat land, was now made to
rise toward the bounding cliff-screen of
western Thebes. The Egyptian stone masses
grandly set in vast open spaces at Saqqara

and Giza stone-built structures played

against the land vyere here welded to the
rockscape as if nature were an extension of
Senmut's design.

Karnak and Luxor


In Thebes itself, "the Mistress of Every City,"
Amon, was supreme. The New Kingdom
capital par excellence, Thebes had raised
itself from a modest provincial existence to

being the center of government and the


national religion. Amon was installed here
in splendor as the principal deity of the land
and the divine strategist of the policy of
expansionism that saw Egyptian armies
triumph against the cities of Syria and Pal-
estine and, under Ramses II (1304-1237 B.C.),
against their great rival, the Hittites of Asia
Minor. War booty and the tribute of sub-
jugated peoples poured into Thebes and
was put to use to glorify the name of Amon
and his royal wards with a monumental en-
vironment worthy of this golden age. The
victorious kings continued to build funer-
ary settings for themselves on the west bank
and to enlarge the layout of the original
Middle Kingdom temples of Amon at Kar-
nak and Luxor on the east bank.
The residential area may have been pri-
marily in the west, between the river and
the row of funerary temples. The houses,
of varying size and splendor, are not now
retrievable, but from representations of
them and information gleaned from other Fig. 4.17 Thebes, a street, ca. 1500 B.C.; recon-
excavated sites we have a fair idea of their struction, perspective drawing.
character. (Fig. 4.17) Modest residential
streets held row houses whose main fea-
tures were a court, a broad hall which

82
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

served as the main living space, and at the and outbuildings such as granaries and administrative buildings. The temple com-
rear a kitchen v^ith an independent stair- chariot houses. The broad hall, rising higher pounds and theirdependencies sheltered
case that led to second-storey bedrooms than the periphery and thus provided with the attendant staff, thousands of workmen
and the terrace above. Richer families might clerestory lighting, was a shared feature of ceaselessly adding and altering, hundreds
have a basement for weaving looms and wealthy and more modest houses; so was of thousands of cattle, orchards, boats, and
might use the terrace to store grain in bins. the shaded portico on the south side of the
workshops for these New Kingdom sanc-
Facades were brightly painted and topped court taking advantage of the prevalent tuaries were social and economic centers
by balustrades of interwoven palm fronds; north breeze. whose administrators wielded power con-
windows had mullions and transoms, and The two temple compounds on the east sonant with the wealth of their holdings.
tracery in the lower half. It was an outgo- bank, Karnak to the north and Luxor which The great temples at Karnak and Luxor as
ing street architecture, not involuted and was known as Amon's "southern harem," we see them today were the product of
street-shy as were the houses of Mesopo- had their own mud-brick enclosure wall. many hundreds of years' work that gradu-
tamian cities. On the edges of town and the They were linked with one another by an ally extended the original axis and en-

surrounding countryside, villas set on large avenue of ram-headed sphinxes. Between hanced the periphery. Earlier cult temples,
independent plots had their own gardens the two enclosures stood the palaces and which are to be distinguished from mortu-

Fig.4.18 Luxor, temple of Amon, Mut, and holep III (1417-1379 B.C.); right, with the addi-
Khonsu; plans of two main stages of its devel- tions of Ramses II (1304-1237 B.C.).

opment: left, the temple at the time of Amen-

Tuthmosis
1 Shrine
Amenhotep
2 Inner Sanctuary
Hypostyle Hall
Forecourt
Processional Colonnade
Pylon
Ramses
7 Forecourt
8, Pylon

F O 100 300 600 900


I I

O 25 50 100 200 300

83
84
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

ary temples and the special open-air tem-


ples of the sun like those at Abusir, have
left scant remains. They were modest in
scale and of no standard disposition. They
differed from the others in the fact that they
invariably housed the statue of a deity, a
small wooden figure often sheathed in gold.
The Middle Kingdom temples of Karnak and
Luxor, impossible to reconstruct today, be-
longed to this category.
The standard New Kingdom temple may
have been originated under Amenhotep III
(1417-1379 B.C.) for the first replacement of
the early temple at Luxor. The type com-
prises three parts: the inner sanctuary for
the cult statue, the boat that transports it

to other temples, and vessels and imple-


ments relevant to its care; the hypostyle
hall; and an outer forecourt for the public,
entered through a pylon. The tripartite
scheme is not unlike the layout of the typ-
ical Egyptian house, with a reception ves-
tibule and court at the front, the broad liv-

ing room in the center of the house that


parallels the hypostyle hall, and the private
apartments at the back that parallel the
D2 F 500 OOO 3000
sanctuary. The New Kingdom custom of
M KX> 500 "kivI
honoring the deity by adding to his or her
temple came to mean multiple pylons and
courts in solemn progression, so that mov-
ing along the axes of Amon's temples at
Karnak and Luxor one trod both a ritual
path, from the most public spaces to the
holy of holies, and a historical path, from
the most recent reigns, the Ethiopian and
Ptolemaic dynasties, through the New
Kingdom, to the oldest foundation that
marked the site as sacred.

Fig. 4.19 Karnak, temple of Amon (D1) and its site


(D2), at the end of its long history. The main
development can be followed in the
stages of this
preceding drawings. The left-hand column shows
the main additions to the temple itself; the right-
hand column records the appearance of periph-
eral structures: (A) the complex at the time of
Tuthmosis (1525-ca. 1512 B.C.); (B) the addition
I

of the Festival Hall and the small temple to Amon-


Re-Herakhty at the time of Tuthmosis III (1504-
1450 B.C.); (C) additions during the next one

hundred years the new hypostyle hall for the
temple of Amon, and the completion of the sub-
sidiary temple groups of Montu (to the north-
east) and Mut (to the southwest).

85
A PLACE ON EARTH

Amenhotep Ill's temple at Luxor, dedi-


cated to the Theban triadAmon, wife his
Mut, and their son Khonsu consisted of an
elaborate inner sanctuary, a hypostyle hall

open in its entire width to a large fore-


court, and beyond the pylon of this fore-
court, a processional colonnade two par-
allel rows of huge papyriform columns,

fourteen in all, lining the main approach to


the temple. (Fig. 4.18) On axis with the in-
ner sanctuary, some distance to the north
of the temple, stood a small shrine in gran-
ite built several decades earlier by Tuth-
mosis III (1504-1450 B.C.). This axis, set by
the original Middle Kingdom temple, un-
doubtedly paralleled the river bank. Begin-
ning with the forecourt of Amenhotep Ill's

temple, however, the axis was noticeably


bent eastward, in order to bypass the Tuth-
mosis shrine and pick up the line of the av-
enue of sphinxes leading to the northern
compound at Karnak.
A century and a half after the completion
of Amenhotep's temple, Ramses II added a
northern court to it, with porticoes on all

four sides. In front of its massive pylon he


set up colossi of himself and two obelisks
flanking the entrance gate. This court was
shaped as a parallelogram to account for the
bent axis of the temple, and it incorpo-
rated the Tuthmosis III shrine on the inner
face of the pylon.
At Karnak the site seems to have been
hallowed since the Old Kingdom. Of the
Middle Kingdom temple, some remains can
be recognized toward the rear of the pre-
sent complex. (Fig. 4.19) Under Tuthmosis
I(1525-c. 1512 B.C.) the architect Ineny en-
closed this temple within a perimeter wall;
he added an entrance court surrounded by
columns and statues of Osiris and pre-
ceded by a pylon (V), a hypostyle hall with
cedar columns, and another pylon (IV)
marked externally by two obelisks. The habit
of setting up this ancient symbol of the sun- Fig. 4.20 Karnak, temple of Amon, the great hy-
god Re of Heliopolis, who had now been postyle hall.

absorbed by Amon, may have started here.


Ineny describes his services in full on the
walls of his tomb.

I supervised the great monuments thathe caused


great door leaf is of Asiatic copper, and upon long reign of this warrior king had been
to make in Karnak, erecting a hall with columns,
which is the shadow of Min modeled in dominated at its start by his formidable step-
erecting great pylons on its two faces, in the
gold. . . .
sister and wife Queen Hatshepsut. Her
beautiful white stone of 'Ayn, erecting august
flagstaffs at the double doorway of the temple. Shortly thereafter, to the east of the new stamp at Karnak can still be seen in the two
... I supervised the erection of the great door- temple, Tuthmosis constructed a Heb-
III obelisks she had put up in the hypostyle hall
way "Amon is the One Mighty of strength" whose Sed jubilee complex, the Festival Hall. The of Tuthmosis I, which necessitated the re-

86

THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

tinuing toward the central group. Where it

met the enclosure wall of this group,


Ramses III (1198-1167 B.C.) raised a small
temple to the remaining member of the
Theban triad, Khonsu. One last proces-
sional avenue ran from a landing dock on
the Nile to the principal western entrance
of the Amon precinct.
The purpose of these sphinx-bordered
monumental alignments came to the fore
during the Feast of Opet when the holy
family left their official residence at Karnak
for a visit to the "southern harem." The
object was the yearly mystical marriage of
Amon and Mut. It was a solemn, colorful
occasion. The royal house, the priesthood
of the various deities, and the common
people who arrived from all over partici-
pated in a staged pageant which used the
river, the temples themselves, and the
processional avenues for a peripatetic ser-
Fig. 4.21 Thebes, the avenue of ram-headed vice that assured the land's fertility. The cult
sphinxes leading from the Nile to Pylon I of the
boats of the three gods were taken out of
Amon temple. their chapels and carried through the tem-
ples to the landing dock where they were
loaded on resplendent Nile boats for the
short sail to Luxor.
moval of its wooden Behind the
ceiling. In the next century the temple axis at Amon's boat was kept in the central

Festival Hall her husband also provided for Karnak was extended westward with two chapel of the Karnak sanctuary, flanked by
a small temple to the rising sun, Amon-Re- new pylons (III and II) that held between two courts of offering. After prescribed rites
Herakhty, with an eastern gate facing the them a new hypostyle hall, one of the most at which the king presided, thirty priests
Theban sunrise. The Karnak axis was now a remarkable achievements of Egyptian ar- wearing hawk and jackal masks carried the
fullrecord of the solar path. The eastern- chitecture. At the same time, two subsidi- boat on their shoulders, first through the
most gateway was "the Upper Door of the ary temple groups were developed to the hall of records, passing between two mas-
Domain of Amon," the station for the ris- north and south of the Amon complex, sive granite pillars which were decorated in
ing sun at the first hour. It progressed dedicated to the original local deity of high relief with the heraldic plants of Up-
through the Herakhty temple and across the Thebes, Montu, and to Amon's consort per and Lower Egypt, the lily and papyrus.
Festival Hall where two chambers, to the Mut, respectively. Between the Amon On Pylon VI, which they crossed next, the
northeast and southeast, housed the ter- complex and the northern group of Montu warrior king Tuthmosis III was shown wor-
restrial and solar aspects of the eternal cy- stood a sanctuary to Ptah, the god of the shipping Amon "at the ninth hour. Be- "

cle of rejuvenation. At the point in the in- old capital of Memphis, a Middle Kingdom yond a transverse vestibule and Pylon V,
ner sanctuary of the main temple where structure of brick and wood rebuilt in stone they passed between the obelisks of Queen
Amon's sun reached the
cult boat stood, the by Tuthmosis III. The southern group of Hatshepsut in the old hypostyle hall and
ninth hour, entering the "Field of Reeds" Mut, with its own trapezoidal girdle wall, then through Pylon IV and its two obelisks
the region where those blessed in death was connected with the Amon temple by that had terminated the initial New King-
lived in perpetual spring. In the transverse means of a processional way that entered dom temple of Tuthmosis and his archi- I

hall between Pylons VI and V, the sun was the central precinct through a pylon in the tect Ineny.
at the tenth hour; at the hypostyle hall, at south enclosure wall and passed through It was at this point that the congregation
the eleventh hour. Beyond Pylon IV the three more pylons before reaching the may have waited to hail the boat as it en-
daily path was completed with the setting Amon temple at a point just east of the new tered the great hypostyle hall. (Fig. 4.20)
of the sun at the twelfth hour. To celebrate hypostyle hall. Light filtered through the stone window
in the open this solar course, Tuthmosis III The main processional way started at gratings of the clerestory into the central
had a rectangular Sacred Lake dug south of Luxor and ran straight until a point close to unit, a nave marked off by huge sandstone
the temple and parallel to it, looked over the Mut compound. There it forked, with columns with papyrus capitals on which the
by a giant granite scarab representing Khe- one prong going southeast to the entrance ceiling rested, and two aisles whose lower
pri, the sun growing toward noon. of this compound and the main prong con- columns supported the clerestory. The for-

87
A PLACE ON EARTH

est of columns on the two sides of this


central unit and the boundary walls be-
yond were decorated with scenes showing
the pharaoh in the presence of deities. It
was in this hall that New Kingdom phar-
aohs were crowned, hence its designation
as "the Hall of the Two Crowns." But it was
also known as "the resting place of the Lord
of the Cods . the place of appearance
. .

... at his annual feast."


The sailboats which were to transport the
holy family were probably helped along with
ropes pulled by members of the proces-
sion moving along the avenue of sphinxes.
(Fig. 4.21) There were six way stations be-

fore Luxor, each marked with a chapel.


Upon arriving at the temple, the proces-
sion filed through the pylon of Ramses II,

passing between the two obelisks (whose


alignment with the entrance was not exact,
probably in order to conceal their unequal
height through the effect of perspective)
and two seated colossi of the ruler. (Fig.
4.22) More statues of him were to be seen
on the south side of the forecourt. The Fig. 4.22 Luxor, Ramses The pylon orig-
II pylon. right obelisk was taken to France in the early
shafts of the papyriform columns and the inally had Ramses and two
six colossal statues of nineteenth century and now stands in the Place

walls themselves, both inside and out, were


obelisks of granite flanking the entrance. The de la Concorde in Paris.

crowded with scenes in sunk relief. On the


outside they had a martial character. The
famous battle of Qadesh against the Hit-
tites (1300 B.C.) occupied the face of the
pylon. Within, the subjects dealt with the
Feast of Opet, showing sacrificial scenes and fourth side led directly into the hypostyle would be daily administered to by its

the procession itself members of the royal hall, its entire facade open toward the court. priesthood, fed and clothed, and appeased
family and priests bearing offerings, the The trapezoidal shape of the court ritually. For in the contentment of Amon

sacrificial animals gaily beribboned and strengthened the perspective toward this rested the land's hope for the benevolence
painted, and a file of priestesses about to facade. Inside the hall, where thirty-two of its rulers, the glory of its armies, and the
pass through the pylon. columns were lined up in four transverse continued plenty of the Black Land.
Past the forecourt, the space narrowed rows, the feeling was of a crowding and
and dimmed. Probably leaving behind some closing up.
Amon's train moved
of the congregation, Once more, as they had started at the in-
Survival of the Egyptian Temple
between the two rows of columns tower- ner sanctuary of Karnak, the priests alone
ing above it as through a shady grove. (Fig. now carried the sacred burden beyond the The primacy of Amon and his priesthood
4.23) The capitals, in the form of open pa- hypostyle hall, leaving it through a single was never successfully challenged in the
pyrus, flared out toward the top, at a height doorway in the rear wall. The ground rose New Kingdom. A religious and political
of about 15 meters (50 feet) from the floor, under their feet, the ceiling height fell, revolution by Amenhotep IV or Akhenaten
enhancing the sense of overhead shelter. daylight was They passed
left behind. (1379-1362 B.C.) that attempted to replace
The long directional passage and the bright through a small transverse hall and then Amon with the cult of the sun-disk Aton did
daylight glowing at its end propelled one through two square rooms one after the not outlast the king's reign. Architecturally
forward. One emerged into the brilliant sun other, the southernmost being the reposi- this iconoclastic period is famous for the
of the next court as into a clearing. The tory of the cult boat. The statue of Amon capital of Akhenaten, Amarna, built in neu-
open space was bordered on three sides was deeper in, in a room behind the boat tral territory between Upper and Lower

with double rows of columns with papy- chapel and separated from it by a trans- Egypt. A vast and lavish city, it was razed
rus-bud capitals, their ceilings painted blue verse vestibule. A single beam of light fell after Akhenaten's death as the setting of
like strips on which were embla-
of sky upon it from a slot in the ceiling. A seated heresy. What we can glean from the foun-
zoned the name crests of the pharaoh. The image of enormous proportions, the statue dations and the illustrative content of the

88
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

Creek empire and was governed by the


house of the Ptolemies, until the arrival of
the Romans on the scene.
Through all these changing regimes,
public architecture changed little. The New
Kingdom temple type continued to be pro-
duced, with no significant modification,
under the benevolent approval of alien rul-
ers anxious to gain the support of the con-
servative Amon priesthood. We
have a
handful of very well-preserved tem-
late

ples that of Horus at Edfu, for example, the
double temple to Haroeris and the croco-
dile-god Sobek at Kom Ombo, the Hathor
temple at Dendera, and the incomplete
temple of the ram-headed god Khnum at
Esna. Finely made and predictable, they
seem timeless components of a vast setting
of ritual. Their very repetitiveness is effec-
tive, parallelling as it does what has been
called "the grand monotony" of the Egyp-
tian landscape.
It is a passionless, temperate, stately ar-
chitecture whose premise is the premise of
all ancient Egypt: rhythms of faith and na-
ture made permanent and ever durable. The
Fig. 4.23 Luxor temple; interior view from the
buildings transcend their multiple author-
forecourt of Amenhotep III, looking back to-
ship and the single events their decoration
ward the inner face of the pylon of Ramses II.
may extol. And since it is single events,
single actions, single reigns that time is

measured by, these stupendous programs


of Upper Egypt create their own immutable
extraordinary art in its tombs is that the vo- be seen as nothing more than an earthly order beyond time, an eternal stability im-
cabulary of pylons, obelisks, and courts was ruler, the chief of national administration. posed on the flow and flux of life. It is only
still relied on, but the main stress now was The priesthood of Amon, on the other when we identify through captions, among
on succession of pylon-fronted courts,
a hand, became hereditary and extended its personages in Egyptian costume rendered
with open-air altars for sacrifices. Since it dominion beyond religious matters, into the in the immemorial style of Egyptian art,

was now the sun-disk itself that was wor- political sphere. In this late period, roughly Julius Caesar or the Emperor Trajan on some
shipped rather than a cult image, no need the millennium B.C., Egypt was for the
first Ptolemaic temple wall that we realize how
was felt for inner sanctuaries. most part under foreign domination. The late in history we are, how retardative this
With Amon's restitution, the priesthood country endured a Nubian or Ethiopian rule architecture is. For by the time of Caesar the
grew in strength at the expense of pha- for two centuries, and then a century of Mediterranean world had been reshaped
raonic supremacy. After the deterioration Persian rule. In the later fourth century B.C. through the force of Classical culture, the
of the New Kingdom, the pharaoh came to it became part of Alexander the Great's benchmark of our Western achievement.

Further Reading

A. Badawy, Architecture in Ancient Egypt and the K. Lange and M. Hirmer, Egypt, trans. R. H. W. S. Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient
Near East (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, Boothroyd, 4th ed., rev. and enl. (New Egypt (Harmondsworth and Baltimore:
1966). York: Phaidon, 1968). Penguin, 1958).
, A History of Egyptian Architecture, 3 vols E. B. Smith, Egyptian Architecture as Cultural 1. Woldering, The Art of Egypt, trans. A. E. Keep
(Berkeley: University of California Press, Expression (Watkins Glen, N.V.: American (New York: Crown, 1963).
1966, 1968). Life Foundation, 1968).
A. Fakhry, The Pyramids, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 1969).

89
^^'^m.^mmm ^Jh^,^^
^jglll^lMm^>*
'^

,fi*^'

^x
Alaca Huyuk (Turkey), Sphinx Gate, mid-second millennium B.C.
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

Classical culture Is the handiwork of Creeks, in Mycenaean Creece. The language in use, forged a single state out of the scattered
and the long process of fashioning it be- the so-called Linear A, remains undeci- Neolithic villages. These people are called
gins early, perhaps about 1700 b.c. The phered, but it was certainly not Creek. The Hittites and their best-known capital was
Creek-speaking people associated with this settlers who altered the modest Neolithic Hattusas, the modern Bogazkoy, some dis-
initialphase of the story, the Mycenaeans, structure of this important island and pro- tance to the east of Ankara. The Hittite state
do not appear to have been a native race. duced, around 2000 B.C., an urban pattern was a great imperial power from about 1600
A warlike stock, they moved into mainland dominated by large royal palaces may also to 1200 B.C. The towns, some quite large,
Creece and the nearby islands of the Ae- have come from Asia Minor. Critically sit- were forcefully situated in the sere Anato-
gean probably from western Asia Minor, and uated in the southern Aegean, Crete be- lian hinterland; they had redoubtable de-
by about 1600 B.C. were in firm control of came a way-station of the Bronze Age, fenses, paved streets, monumental public
this region. They built a number of inde- linking the Creek coastland with Egypt and buildings, and drainage channels. A net-
pendent citadel towns famous in later leg- Mesopotamia. work of good roads welded them together

end Pylos, Tiryns, Mycenae itself and and made possible regular communication
were using a form of early Creek that mod- with neighboring states. To the southeast,
ern scholarship has named Linear B. the kingdom of Assyria maintained smooth
Asia Minor
The exploits of these Mycenaeans were trade relations facilitated by a string of its
sung by Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey It is Asia Minor, then, or Anatolia as it is also own merchant colonies near major Hittite
several centuries after their civilization had called, that has claims to being the first towns. Finally, to the southwest the Hit-
ceased to exist. But before their day was homeland of European civilization. For tites dealt with Egypt.
over, theMycenaeans had managed to be- several thousand years precocious Neo-
come an overseas power of consequence. lithic settlements like Catalhoyuk (see Hattusas
They had trading posts as far away as Sicily Chapter 3) had dotted the central plateau A look at Hattusas will give us a fair idea of
and military colonies along the coast of Asia of this land-bridge between Europe and Asia the Hittite environment. The strength of
Minor. And when a great Mycenaean force and the seaboard that defines it on three their architecture was to accept the raw
was being assembled to besiege Troy sides. The lavish treasures in their tombs design of the land as the better part of
sometime toward the close of the thir- betray a level of sophistication not to be building. This entailed not only using nat-
teenth century B.C., "eighty black ships," expected from the unprepossessing half- ural configurations for purposes of de-

Homer tells us, came from "Crete of the timbered houses, a construction tech- fense or advantageous siting, but wresting
hundred cities." (Fig. 5.1) nique, by the way, that still persists today a kind of manly dignity from the rugged
Crete, the largest island the Aegean,
in and may have always been thought partic- terrain. The image of the fortified city in this
had prospered as a high culture for some ularly suitable for this earthquake-prone martial state mattered as much as the ef-
time prior to the organized presence of the country. fectiveness of defensive apparatus. The
its

Mycenaeans on the Creek mainland and Then, toward the very end of the third walls must not only be secure against at-
had influenced the Mycenaean faith and millennium b.c, successive waves of an tack, they must also look formidable so that
vision before being conquered by them Indo-European people began sweeping into they would discourage would-be aggres-
about 1450 B.C. This brilliant Cretan culture Asia Minor from the west. They mingled sors.
was very different from that which took hold with the indigenous population and in time Hattusas sits dramatically on a spur of

91
A PLACE ON EARTH

I^, .

-.-: /- <--^
I
.Hattusas .,.- ^-;r'>'^:^&''^ ^ ^^

"U,,.,.. ,,/.^'

1'"-''
-

av f UJ:

Fig. 5.1 Map: The Mediterranean in the second


millennium B.C.

rocky hills at the end of a wide and fertile to Hattusas, the cliff against which it Both this main curtain and a lower apron
valley. The original town clung to the north crouches, were agents of defense. Rocks wall further down were punctuated by
slope overlooking the valley, with a flat- and boulders were piled up, often unfin- projecting rectangular towers at intervals of
topped rock to the southeast as its citadel. ished, with such virile effect that it seems about 30 meters (100 feet). Having breached
A century or two after it became the Hittite as if the city were rooted in the primordial the apron wall, the attacking force would
capital,perhaps about 1400 B.C., an enor- landscape, an extension of the natural or- have been confronted by the embank-
mous new crescent of fortifications was der. (Fig. 5.3) ment, which was faced with dressed stones
thrown around the exposed hillside to the The walls skillfully followed the land too slippery to scale. This system of smooth
south, so that the entire circumference now contour. They were built on a huge em- artificial slopes, called glacis by the Ro-

measured about 7 kilometers (4 miles) in bankment of earth and consisted of a dou- mans, was used to break the momentum of
length and enclosed an area of over 120 ble shell of Cyclopean masonry, partitioned a charge. It was also applied to the ramp
hectares (300 acres). (Hig. 5.2) with cross-walls and filled with rubble. The that skirted the main wall and forced a lat-
Defense and intimidation here were not superstructure, made of mud-brick rein- eralapproach toward the gates, easily cov-
solely manmade. The very gorges leading forced with timber beams, has left no trace. ered by archers placed above. At one point

92
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

a long tunnel from within the defenses de- portals, the outer setdeep within the wall, irregular and contiguous houses grouped
bouched at the very bottom of the em- the inner flush with on the town side. The
it around courts. The administrative complex
bankment, below the apron wall, between portals were made of two monoliths cor- of the citadel was also loosely planned. It
two stair ramps that led to a single gate. It belled over so as to form an elliptical arch- consisted of a number of independent
was intended for surprise sorties and
clearly way. On these tremendous jambs of the buildings strung along the edges of the flat-
was huge stones that formed a
lined with outer portals animal figures lions and topped rock, with no discernible formal
rudimentary corbelled vault. (Fig. 5.4)
sphinxes were carved in very high relief. composition. Some of the buildings were
The gates had flanking towers and two The residential arrangement was typical: themselves of an irregular outline. This was

Fig. 5.2 Hattusas (now Bogazkby, Turkey), Hittite


capital, ca. 1900-1200 B.C.; general site plan and
inset of citadel.

I. Yazilikaya
..A.*>/
2. Citadel
,ll''"\,
A*^'' Z-r^t 3, Temple 1

"\\V\\\VUvv^^''"V
yu^' 4. Temples
^''
.^' / 2-5
,l,l'll|||

'"III, 5. Halys
River

*^"
:VWi,v
,""'

i> ,,ll""l,l.""''"

u>llll'l>"l

r^'

^t \ "\ \- ' \ ?iT; ff

'-^ '^
{V f/^' '
-'

$^M>^ N>--.^M6 ^S::-#B

F 100 500

KM O 10 20 M O 50 100 200

93

A PLACE ON EARTH

Fig. 5.3 Hattusas, the walls along the southwest Fig. 5.4 Hattusas, underground tunnel leading to

side of the city, with the Lion Gate, fourteenth a postern gate, fourteenth century B.C.

century B.C.; close-up view.

also true of the temples, the most impres- the manner of the Egyptian court. (Fig. 4.18) from it off axis. Hittite documents reveal that
sive remains at Hattusas. Four of them, with The column, forone thing, is unknown in on important feast days the king sat here,
no standard orientation, seem
been to have Hittite architecture.The standard portico on after the proper ablutions in the court, for

arranged perpendicularly to a paved main piers always defined one or two, in some a ceremonial meal, surrounded by cour-

street which wended its way through the exceptions three, sides of the court, and tiers and priests.

new town and may have lined up with a even then not uniformly. The court, in other The irregular outline, the asymmetry, the
natural sanctuary across the ravine, now words, had four sides of divergent design. court with the four discrete elevations
called YazFlfkaya.The fifth and largest tem- Second, the sanctuary was bathed- in light these should not be thought of as pictur-
ple, known as Temple and dedicated to
I that poured through two windows flanking esque effects nor be considered the result

the powerful weather-god whose cult was the cult statue and also through side win- of careless accretion. Such buildings differ

widespread in Anatolia, was in the old town. dows. This luminous holy of holies makes from the organic tangle of cities like Ur in

It was entirely surrounded by storerooms a surprising contrast to the dimness and that their creation did not always stretch
and repositories, many filled with earthen- secrecy of the cult chambers in the normal over a long span of time and their owner-
ware storage jars. (Fig. 5.5) hiittite temples, Egyptian temple sequence. In fact, unlike ship and pattern of use were much more
like those of Mesopotamia and New King- the sealed exteriors of both Egyptian and single-minded than what prevailed in city
dom Egypt, were economic entities. They Mesopotamian temples, the entire periph- blocks. But they were no more without a
owned vast estates that they let to farmers ery wall of Temple was perforated with
I
rational order than were organic city plans,

for aground-rent in kind. Yet the layout of ample windows, starting just a few feet and the basis ofthis order was common to

the Hittite temple is distinctive and differs above the ground and framed by pilasters. both: the expression of the built structure
from its contemporaries at Thebes or Ur in Third, the sanctuary was approached in a as the sum total of distinct functions

at least three respects. roundabout way, through a series of vesti- brought together with no concern for the
First, the court around which the temple bules not directly opening out to the cen- two principles of geometrically ordered
was organized was not conceived as a for- tral court. In Temple the sanctuary is like
I
compositions, bilateral symmetry along an
mal space framed by uniform cloisters, in an annex to the main structure, jutting out axis, the principle that governs the design

94
1 Complex Entrance
2 Tennple nnnnr-/j
3. Temple Sanctuary

4. Residential
Quarter
o too 300 _690

M O 50 100 200
Fig. 5.5 Hattusas, Temple I dedicated to the
weather-god, ca. 1400 b.c; ground plan.

95

A PLACE ON EARTH

of Egyptian temples despite their pro-


tracted development, and the strict rectan-

gularity of outline that disciplines the pal-


ace of Mari or the city blocks of El Kahun.
(Figs. 3.24, 4.2) The crux of the matter fs

whether an abstract architectural order is


given priority and allowed to control, from
above as it were, the organization of the
general layout, or whether site and func-
tion will shape the building, with such out-
line and elevation as the reality of land
contours and the congress of various func-
tional units might produce.
The special quality of Hittite design its

grasp of natural forms and its studied bal-


ancing of the civilized and the elemental
is best brought out in YazTlfkaya, the sanc-

tuary in an outcrop of rocks where a spring


must have originally marked, in this dry
land, a sacred To reach it you
grove.
climbed toward the northeast, beyond the
ravine, leaving the town and its hubbub jiM*^'^^
behind.
Passing through the gatehouse, you went Fig. 5.6 Hattusas, the open-air sanctuary of Ya-

up two and entered the tem-


sets of stairs zflikaya northeast of the city (no. 1 on Fig. 5.2),

ple court with its fountain pavilion. The ca. 1350-1250 B.C., main gallery; general view.

main hall was ahead, but a porch on the left


led down to the first gallery, a vast lime-
stone hall open and paved with
to the sky
turf and flowers. Here a solemn gathering
of the Hittite pantheon was taking place.
(Fig. 5.6) Two great processions, male di-

vinities on one wall and female ones on the a String of principalities of which two have
other, converged toward a single isolated particular interest for our architectural
rock. On it the great sun-goddess Arinna study: a settlement at modern Beycesul- Fig. 5.7 Yazlllkaya, main gallery; detail of the rock-
cut frieze, showing the sun-goddess Arinna (He-
(Hepatu) was seen standing on the back of tan, close to the source of the Meander
patu) and her court.
a panther, as did her son immediately be- river; and further north, at the entrance to
hind her. (Fig. 5.7) She faced her consort, the Dardanelles, a mound called Hissarlik,
the elder "Weather-god of Heaven," as he long identified with the city of Troy whose
was called in the name-sign he carried. His 10-year siege by the Mycenaean Creeks, as
feet were planted on two mountains that told in the Iliad, is one of the most cele-
had human form, an image that has a long brated episodes of history. The recently
history going back to Mesopotamia. excavated palace at Beycesultan recalls the
A narrow cleft to the right as you faced great palaces of Minoan Crete, while a
this awesome rock-theater led into the sec- building form here and at Troy, known in
ond gallery, probably the holy of holies. the modern literature by the Homeric term
Here a strange dagger-god plunged him- megaron, shows up as the central feature
self into the rough base of the cliff, and King of Mycenaean citadels and will form the
Tudhaliya IV was shown next to him in the basis, as we will see in the next chapter, of
reassuring embrace of his tutelary god Sar- the later Greek temple.
umma. The main characteristic of these two set-
tlements, as well as of Cretan-Mycenaean
Beycesultan and Troy towns, is that they lack religious buildings
Between the Hittites and the Cretan- of public scale. Most of the built structure
Mycenaean world lay western Asia Minor was residential and administrative. Ritual

96
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

observances were accommodated within


these structures and in occasional shrines
not very different from ordinary houses,
without the need for monumental temples
of the sort that still highlighted the archae-
ological landscape of Mesopotamia, Egypt,
and the Hittite empire.
Fig. 5.8 Beycesultan (Turkey), Bronze Age pal-
The palace at Beycesultan lies on the
ace, ca. 1800 B.C.; reconstruction drawing.
eastern of the two summits which the town
occupied. It was a large building (some
eighty chambers have been excavated), or-
ganized around a rectangular court with a
surrounding gallery, or a series of balcon-
ies, supported on wooden columns. (Fig.

5.8) The half-timbered construction was


elaborate, and in some ways peculiar. The
fill was rubble at foundation level, mud-
brick above. No dressed stone was used
anywhere; the dominant craft was that of
the carpenter and not the mason. The
panels of the half-timbering were strictly
rectangular, as would always be the case in
Asia Minor until relatively recent times when
diagonal struts were introduced to in-
crease the rigidity of the framework.
The practice of strengthening stone or
mud-brick walls through the insertion at
regular intervals of rows of runner beams,
held in position by cross-ties, is quite an-
cient in Asia Minor. At the palace of Bey-
cesultan the scheme was amplified with
rows of enframe the ma-
vertical posts that
sonry uniformly from the foundations to the
roof. In addition, and independently of the
thickness of the walls, freestanding posts
against the inner wall face were also em-
ployed, presumably to support some ele-
ment of the upper story which contained
the principal apartments.
A unique feature at Beycesultan is the
system of foundations. The first stones were
laid on a bedding of tree trunks lined up
traversely to the direction of the wall. The
trunks projected beyond the wall faces and
became the lower component of a sub-
pavement passage on either side of them.
This costly device appears to have been in-
tended as a system of ventilation or winter
heating, one of the earliest examples of
environmental controls in the history of ar-
chitecture.
O 50 100 150 The date of the palace is about 1800 B.C.
l_ I _1 It was destroyed by fire and was overlaid
several centuries later by a different palace
M 25 50 complex that had extensive stabling facili-

97
.

A PLACE ON EARTH

ties
evidence that the horse as a draught
W" ,vxV^^^',
animal and mount was greatly valued. The
chief residential unit of the palace was now
a megaron. This term applies to a large,
barnlike, single-storey structure compris-
ing a rectangular hall with a circular central
hearth and a front porch formed by the
prolongation of the side walls. The ends of
these walls were specially treated using
single, three-quarter columns. Indeed, the
megaron had been a standard unit for im-
portant residences within the town as far
back as the later third millennium b.c. '% '"%//*,

At Troy, evidence of the megaron is even .,ii/ll"''<.,

earlier.The mound of Hissarllk sits to the '%Ah /I 'III ////,, '"''^'mim^''


north of an ample plain, with Mount Ida in
'llv
the background. No fewer
than nine su-
perimposed cities have been sorted out on
the site. We should rather speak of cita-
dels, for the area covered by these settle-
ments was very small, 2 hectares (5 acres)
at its most expansive. Unless there was a
larger outer town (and some evidence for
this does exist), it to see how
would be hard \> A\\\^' MIIIIIIWIIlll
archaeological could support Ho-
reality
mer's account of the great city of Priam and
Hector, which was to house an army of
50,000 Trojans and allied troups.
The Homeric city is believed to coincide
with the seventh of the nine layers, count-
ing from the bottom up. It was only a little
more than a half-century old when it fell to
the combined armies of the Mycenaean
commonwealth under the command of
Mycenae's King Agamemnon.
The first layer goes back to about 3000 B.C.
(Fig. 5.9) This earliest settlement, known as
Troy I, already had a strong set of walls o1
sun-dried brick on a massive rubble sub-
structure. The walls had a pronounced bat-
ter, the device for buttressing tall masonry
planes by raking them which was regularly
used in Egyptian architecture. The plan of
one complete megaron emerged from the
tangle of the dig. It was about 18 meters (60
feet) long, inclusive of the porch, and 7

:>.,/^/r(rr,/.
Fig. 5.9 Troy (now Hissarllk, Turkey), three su-
, .(\'/yyrrf(fl'nv:iiivn\tx
perimposed levels of occupation, simplified '/7r
/riv. 'h
plans: Troy I, ca. 3000 B.C. (upper Troy II,
left);
300 600
F O 100
ca.2500-2200 B.C. (upper right); and Troy VI, ca. I . 1

1800-1300 B.C. (bottom).


M O 25 50 lOO 200

98
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

The defensive gateways of the citadel of settlements of Bronze Age Greece, this type
Troy II have a similar arrangement of front was probably reserved for chieftains; its
and back porch between which lies a small presence suggests an aristocratic society
court enclosed by two sets of doors. A already at odds with the simpler open vil-
gatehouse of the inner circuit around the lage of Neolithic times. The common peo-
palace area dispenses with the court and ple lived in houses of several different types,
uses a single set of doors between the deep both rectangular and circular, set next to
front porch facing away from the palace and each other indiscriminately. The settle-
the shallower one at the back. The open ments were at first defenseless. Later, at a
space that reaches from here to the coun- time still prior to the arrival of the Mycen-
cil megaron was formalized along two sides aeans, small fortified towns make their ap-
by veranda built against the inner face of
a pearance, simple walls buttressed
their
this enclosure wall. Spurs of masonry pro- within by the continuous backs of a ring of
jecting from the wall alternated with houses.
wooden columns on stone bases. When The great citadels of Mycenaean lords
seen from the open space, the effect was date from around 1400 B.C., several centu-
of a porch of columns and piers reminis- ries after the migratory wave that brought
O D
F

M 6~
25

5.10 Korakou (Greece), "hairpin megaron,"


10
cent of later Cretan practice. The con-
scious planning of this urban corner is re-
markably advanced for its time in the
this people into Creece. (Fig. 5.11) They
represent the first major architectural epi-
sode of Creek culture. The preference was
Fig. context of Asia Minor, although not so in for strategically located, defensible emi-
a house of the first half of the second millen- Egyptian or Mesopotamian terms. nences with a good supply of water. (Fig.
nium B.C.; ground plan.
Troy VI was the most prosperous phase 5.12) At the summit stood the palace of the
of the citadel. Its main buildings were in- king. Its defenses took in an open com-
formally arranged along the inner periph- mon, to serve in time of danger as shelter
ery of the walls, as in the layout of the cit- for the people of the township who lived
adel at Hattusas with which it is roughly for the most part on the unwalled slopes.
meters (23 feet) wide. The main room con- contemporary. But although the walls are As in Hittite sites, the fortifications ex-
tained raised platforms for beds, a stone- was already dated.
of fine construction, Troy ploited the lay of the land and were built in
paved central hearth, and a smaller hearth The single thick com-
line of these walls heavy cyclopean masonry of boulders piled
for cooking against the back wall. The flat pared unfavorably with the more advanced up with rugged effect. Southern Creece is
roof was made of small boughs or reeds system at Hattusas. Furthermore, a curi- a rough-and-tumble territory of intricate
supporting a coat of clay, and clay was also ously retrogressive aspect of Troy VI is that shores and small, rocky, obstreperous
applied to the inner face of the walls. The the use of the megaron seems to have been mountains a difficult land where aromatic
floorwas raised periodically to cover the abandoned. The rectangular buildings that scrub and the hardy olive tree are the only
accumulated refuse and carpeted in places take its place all had internal supports and vegetation to prosper effortlessly. On this
with rush matting. upper stories. raw theater of nature the Mycenaean lords
The megara of Troy II, including the very imposed their rule.
large one next to the royal palace which The megaron dominated the palace
probably served as the council chamber, complex in size and determined its axis.
Mycenaeans and Minoans
differed from this norm in one important (Fig. 5.13) It commonly
faced south and was
respect. The side walls were prolonged to- When we next encounter the megaron, it entered through a front porch; between the
ward the back as well, forming a shallow is on the Creek mainland, as the central porch and the hall was a set of guard-
back porch to which, however, no access feature of Mycenaean palaces. The build- rooms. In the hall, a large hearth of stuc-
could be had from the main room. The ing probably came to Creece from Asia Mi- coed clay focused this ceremonial place.
purpose of this false porch was probably to nor along with the main Mycenaean stock, Here libations were poured and sacrificed
allow the flat roof to extend beyond the but there are sporadic occurrences of it in animals burned. The smoke escaped
back wall face and thus protect the sun- eastern Europe. At least one related house through the open sides of a lantern with an
dried bricks from damaging rain. For this type of the pre-Mycenaean period in Creece impervious top over the hearth, an ar-
same purpose the ends of the side walls could be considered a native archetype; this rangement which also admitted light. The
were given a wooden facing. It may be from is the so-called "hairpin megaron," a U- lantern was supported on four columns at
such practical beginnings that the special shaped structure the curved end of which the corners of the hearth. Sometimes, as is
architectural treatment of these ends de- was walled off to make a back room. (Fig. the case at Pylos, an entire gallery level be-
veloped, leading to the columnar design of 5.10) The roof, however, appears to have tween the ceiling and the clerestory lan-
them at Beycesultan. been ridged rather than flat. In the small tern would surround the hearth opening.

99

A PLACE ON EARTH

Next to the hearth stood an offering table, In the main palace building at Pylos, the corridor ring around three sides of the
and the king's throne was set across the axis begins with a gatehouse consisting of megaron. To the right and left of the ves-
way, in the middle of one of the long sides, two units; each had a single column in the tibule, stairs led to the upper floor. These
flanked by painted guardian griffins. The middle of its open end that aligned with the surrounding rooms included three maga-
floor was stuccoed and laid out in squares, common entrance in the cross-wall which zines to the north for storing oil, and along
each square painted with a different ab- separated the units. The double gatehouse the flanks, pantries for dishes and drinking
stract pattern in several colors. On the walls was followed by an inner court, on the cups. The women's quarter occupied the
were fresco representations of musicians (it north side of which rose the two-column area above the eastern rooms. The double
was in such megara that Homer's ancestral portico of the megaron proper. A doorway gatehouse was flanked, to the west, by the
bards sang their lays), hunting scenes, and with a sentry box to one side led to a ves- archiveroom where hundreds of Linear B
the like. tibule, and through a second guarded were unearthed, and to the east, by
tablets
doorway one entered the throne room with the queen's apartments, these grouped
Pylos its flame-decorated hearth. The axis ended around a large hall with its own hearth and
Perhaps the most instructive Mycenaean at the blind north wall of this room. a walled courtmatching that of the king's
palace is that of Nestor in Homer's "sandy Surrounding rooms were served by a immediately to the north. Neither of the
Pylos." The defensive system of the My-
cenaeans, however, is best observed at the
citadel of Tiryns, which is planted on an
outcrop of limestone rising out of the plain
of Argos, like a sturdy ship headed for the
nearby sea. And for a sense of the entire
Mycenaean community with its gates and
tombs and artifacts, none can compete with 5.11 Map: The eastern Mediterranean
Fig. in the
Mycenae itself. "Well-built Mycenae," Ho- second millennium B.C.
mer calls her, and "Mycenae rich in gold"
two epithets fully confirmed by the exca-
vations that started a hundred years ago
with Heinrich Schliemann. It was his dis-
covery of the site and the fabulous gold
treasure of its tombs that heralded the ex-
posure of this early Greek culture and the
authentication of Homeric myth as history.
Something of the initial excitement of Ho-
meric poetry proved true comes across in
the jubilant telegram that Schliemann sent
to the king of Greece in December 1876:

It is with extraordinary pleasure that I announce


to Your Majesty my discovery of the graves which,
according to tradition are those of Agamemnon,
Cassandra, Eurymedon and their comrades, all
killed during the banquet by Clytemnestra and
her lover Aegisthus.

To take Pylos first, the older palace was


probably the separate building to the
southwest of the complex. (Fig. 5.14) The
main hall was not a full megaron. The ap-
proach was at a right angle from a large en-
trance hall that had a facade with two wood
columns between antae, and one pecu-
liarly placed column within. This ortho-

gonal order of a hall-of-state sequence may


have been standard in a first phase of My-
cenaean palace design, and its memory may
account for the placement of the throne to
one side of the otherwise straight axis in the
later megara.

100
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

Fig. 5.12 Mycenae (Greece); aerial view from the


west.

small courts could be entered from the chariots were kept and repairs of metal and from the Cretans who relied on such fac-
outside, thus ensuring the privacy of the leather goods were carried out. ing, in their case, alabaster, to produce a
royal couple. To the east of the courts a sense of opulence.
main spout delivered the palace water which Tiryns By contrast, the defensive ring was built
was carried here by a wooden aqueduct The construction of Mycenaean palaces was of Cyclopean masonry. Enormous blocks of
from a spring about one kilometer away of rubble throughout, strengthened by a irregular shape were packed with smaller
across the valley. Onthe northeast edge of massive framework of horizontal and ver- stones and clay. The circuit at Tiryns, as it
the hill, a large building served as a wine tical timbers. Outside, the principal walls looked after three centuries of revisions and
magazine; and to the southeast, a building were faced with fine limestone. The prac- additions, comprised two parts: the close
of severalrooms seems to have been the tice of using stone as a thin veneer for walls for the commons to the north, entered from
palace workshop where spare parts for of inferior material might have been learned the lower town through a gate at the

101
Fig. 5.13 Pylos (Greece), the main hall or mega-
ron of the palace, thirteenth century b.c; re-
construction drawing.

1 Old Polace
Fig. 5.14 Pylos, the palace site; general plan. 2 Mam Paloce
3 Gatehouse
4 Megaron
5 Archive Room
6 Queen's Quarters
7 Wine Magazine
8 Workshop
9 Aqueduct

F O 50 KDO 200 300

25 50 100

102
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

southwest corner; and the palace enclo-


1 Postern Gate
sure, the approach to which was a formi-
2 Tunnels
dable obstacle course. (Fig. 5.15)
3. Casemate
The only access to this enclosure was
along the east flank. There was no axial ap-
4 Entrance

proach from the south, and the postern gate Megaron


on the west side, overlooked by a huge
bastion, led to the main water supply out-
side the citadel. Hidden spring chambers
further north could be reached in times of
siege by two tunnellike passages through
the west wall of the close. The south and
southeast section of the citadel wall con-

tained casemates a series of rooms, with
no own, opening off long
lighting of their
passages whose tremendous corbel vaults
parallel those of Hattusas. In fact, this
technique of cyclopean corbelling, where
each course overlaps and counterweighs the
one below on the cantilever principle until
the highest course on each side leans in-
ward against the other, was probably intro-
duced from Asia Minor.
The main eastern access, a narrow slit in
the wall, could be gained only by means of
a northern ramp that exposed the un-
shielded right side of enemy troops to
bowmen on the parapets. Once in, the
hostile force would find itself in a long de-
file and under fire from the tops of the im-
mense bastions along both sides. Two
gateways in this corridor had then to be
traversed before reaching the entrance of
the palace situated on the western side of
a forecourt, just beyond the second gate-
way. Another right angle turn at the palace
court proper and one would finally reach
the inner gates of the complex.

Mycenae
The design of the citadel atMycenae has
much in common with that of Tiryns. (Fig.
Mycenae
5.12) occupies a hilltop between
Mount Zara to the east and Mount Marta
to the west. In the background rises Mount
Profitis Elias on whose summit there are
remains of a Mycenaean lookout post. The
position of the citadel commanded the sea
approach from Crete and the south Ae-
gean in general, as well as the land road to

F O too 300
Fig. 5.15 Tiryns (Greece), Mycenaean citadel, ca. I

1600-1100 B.C.; general plan.


M O 50 lOO

103
Fig. 5.17 Mycenae, "Treasury of Atreus," en-
trance to the burial chamber; reconstruction
drawing.

^! ^^:<iS".ci^':cT?\:ei5Tgi 5Y^^?fgi3ri
Tx Y 1 X X rxxYXXXX XX ;

Fig. 5.16 Mycenae, the so-called "Treasury of


Atreus," a tholos tomb of the fourteenth cen-
tury B.C.; Isometric view.

104
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

eral resemblance to Neolithic passage graves mos carrying the bodies of the king and also
(see Chapter 2), and circular ossuaries of an of his wife and an attendant or two who may
earlier date are known in Crete. These os- have been forced to kill themselves in or-
suaries lacked the dromos, however, and der to accompany him. The king was low-
were entered through a simple antecham- ered into his grave, commonly a pit below
ber; they were built entirely above ground; the floor, and about him his treasures were
and when they were vaulted, the stone was
arranged bronze daggers inlaid with gold
finished off in wood. Beehive tombs were and electrum, cups of precious materials,
subterranean. First, the dromos was cut ornaments and seals. Logs were stacked up
through a hillslope. Retaining walls were over the opening of the pit, and on this pyre
built tosecure the two sides of the open valuable objects and offerings of food and
passage. Next, a circular area was dug out drink in clay pots were burnt. The pyre in
and the tomb chamber built inside it. The the end collapsed into the grave pit. The
dome, which rose above the ground, was hole was filled with earth, covering the king
covered up with earth, the mound being and the accompanying bodies laid down by
supported by a circular buttress wall in line him. Large stone slabs were placed over the
with the haunch of the dome. grave. The door was closed and secured,
The best known and finest beehive tomb and the dromos may have been filled in on
is the fancifully named Treasury of Atreus. the way out.
Its dromos was a full 36.50 meters (120 feet) Beehive tombs were a late form of burial
long and about 6 meters (20 feet) wide. The forMycenaean princes. Earlier on princes
floor was cemented. The side walls rose in were entombed in shaft graves, of which
steps toward the two-storey facade of the one group, the so-called Circle A group, was
tomb proper. (Fig. 5.17) The lower story incorporated within the citadel during a fi-
held the doorway which was battered in nal enlargement of the walls. The main gate
imitation of an Egyptian pylon. The lintel to the citadel, in the northwest corner, is a
block extended right across the facade and tremendous structure of monolithic jambs,
Fig. 5.18 Mycenae, "Treasury of Atreus," burial locked into the dromos walls. The doorway threshold and lintel; originally it held large
chamber; interior view.
was framed by half-columns of green lime- wooden doors. (Fig. 5.19) The lintel alone
stone decorated with bands of zigzag. The must weigh close to 25 tons. Over its con-
downward tapering of these columns and vex top face comes a relieving triangle
their cushion capitals are clearly of Cretan which here preserves its sculptured
inspiration. Smaller half-columns stood
screen a limestone slab showing two lions
Corinth and central Greece beyond. This above them at the second-storey level, the on either side of a downward tapering col-
bold prominence of hard limestone was main feature of which was a relieving tri- umn. This is the first piece of large-scale
made even more impregnable by the cy- angle originally screened with a slab. The sculpture we have from the Greek world.
clopean wails, which have a thickness of 6 purpose of the triangle was to reduce the We have already encountered beasts as
to 7 meters (20 to 25 feet) and employ weight over the lintel. We have already no- guardians of gates in Assyria and Hattusas.
boulders that weigh as much as 5 tons each. ticed such relieving devices in Old King- Here at Mycenae the heraldic composition
The water supply was copious. As at Ti- dom pyramids. probably stands for the Great Goddess and
ryns, an underground cistern (at the foot of The double door of the tomb, as well as her beasts. She was portrayed at the rock
the southeastern escarpment) was reached the beautifully joined surfaces of the inte- sanctuary of Yazflfkaya, standing on a
by a stepped secret passage that cut through rior, was lined with bronze plaques fixed in panther. (Fig. 5.7) She was also a common
the wall. place with bronze nails. The curve of the image in Crete where small seals depict her
The road from the Argive plain ascended rotunda started at floor level, so that the on her mountaintop, subduing the wild
a foothillfrom the southwest which held a whole sweeping arc
interior described a beasts and insisting on the recognition of
large cemetery. The excavator's pick yielded over the buried prince, made skylike by the her ancient symbol, the horns of consecra-
several finds: pre-Mycenaean burials, rock- bronze rosettes that probably studded it. The rhythmic, small-scale,
tion. (Fig. 5.20)
cut chamber tombs, and an extraordinary (Fig. 5.18) spruce rendition of the Cretan artist is as
class of buildings called tholoi, or "bee- At the Treasury of Atreus, the actual bur- eloquent of the fluid vision of that island
hive" tombs (Fig. 5.16) These tombs were ialtook place at a small rectangular cham- culture as is the tight, regimented, and
circular structures with corbelled domes of ber to one side of the rotunda, but some- powerful relief of the Lion Gate represen-
finely cut stone and an approach cause- thing of the standard rite can be deduced tative of the world of the Mycenaean war-
way, or dromos. The oldest among them from evidence on tombs. The fu-
similar lords and their semifeudal society.
goes back to 1500 B.C. The form has a gen- neral procession marched down the dro- Past the Lion Gate, a ramp ascended to-

105
A PLACE ON EARTH

ward the palace. The unusually oriented


megaron is still recognizable, but not much
else is, since a Classical Greek temple was
built over the palace in later centuries. A
path below the ramp led down to Circle A,
the site of Schliemann's first spectacular
finds. The circular wall around them con-
sisted of two parallel rows of upright slabs,
their upper edges cut to receive horizontal
roof slabs. The graves were marked by ste-
lai: they have been interpreted as false
doors, to let the wandering souls into and
out of the tomb. Some of the buried princes
wore golden breastplates and face masks
with a convincing replication of their fea-
tures hammered out of the gold sheet.
The concept of shaft graves with false
doors, the practice of swathing bodies in
bandages and probably mummifying them,
and the generous use of gold bespeak di-
rect familiarity with Egypt. Some scholars
believe that Mycenaean mercenaries were
employed by the pharaohs during the ex-
pulsion of the Hyksos from the Delta area
in the sixteenth century b.c. If so, Cretan
ships may have transported this mainland
force.

Knossos
Crete an island of broad and fertile
is plains
that are defined by tall mountains: Leuka
to the west; Dikte to the east; and in the
center Mount Ida where according to Greek
tradition Zeus was born in a cave and raised
secretly, for his father Kronos had taken to
swallowing his children as soon as they were
born in the hopes that thereby he would
thwart the oracle's prophecy that one of his
sons would dethrone him. Cretan towns
spread out at the foot of these mountains,
casual and unfortified. To the Classical
world Crete was the Isle of the Blessed:
home of the wise King Minos, one of the
three judges of the Underworld, home of
crafty Daedalus, the architect and inventor,
who made wings with which to fly to Sicily,
and home of a peaceful, versatile, happy
people attuned to the rhythm of the sea and
Fig. 5.19a Mycenae, Lion Gate, thirteenth cen-
the shaking earth: "There is a land in the tury B.C.; view.
midst of the wine dark sea," Homer sings,
"a fair and a rich land called Crete, washed
by waves on every side, densely peopled
and boasting ninety cities."
We have a good image of the builders of
this Minoan culture, as it is known from

106
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

its legendary king


a race of tall, flexible, Something of this fluent vision of the
narrow-waisted men and women, at home world, so different from the preeminent ri-
on the high seas in their ships made of the gidity of Egyptian form, is evident in much
oak and cypress, fir and cedar, trees that of what the Cretans fashioned: in earthen
then forested the mountain slopes. They jars, seals, statuettes,murals on the walls
lived, so it would seem from their art and of palaces and villas
indeed in the very
built environment, in perfect communion layout of these buildings and the towns they
with nature, in a kind of all-embracing graced. Marine and plant forms, freshly
pantheism that was never institutionalized observed and vividly depicted, figured reg-
view of most of the
into strict religion. In ularly in the artists' repertory. A large oc-
ancient civilizations we
have studied so far, topus might enliven the surfaces of an oil
the extreme rarity of temples (one proba- or wine jar, its writhing tentacles reinforc-
ble instance is known thus far) and stone ing the potter's shape. (Fig. 5.21) Flying fish
Fig. 5.20 Minoan seal, showing worship of the
statuary is indeed striking. It would seem or stalks swaying in the breeze might bring
Creat Goddess, sixteenth century b.c; line trac-
that there were tree cults, stone pillar cults sunny charm into a living room. ing. (Archaeological Museum, Heraklion, Crete,
pregnant of the Neolithic past, and certain Most of these remains date from about Greece)
rooms in the palace of the king that were 2000 to 1400 B.C. It was at the beginning of
set aside for worship. And over it all, over this period that a complex urban civiliza-
the rising plant and the lapping wave, the tion, based in large measure on overseas
Great Goddess ruled from her lofty heights. commerce, supplanted the existing struc- to 6000 B.C. when an group of immi-
initial

(Fig. 5.20) ture of society. This early society dates back grants from Asia Minor
up Neolithic
set
communities like those of the homeland.
This village-centered culture was galva-
nized at the turn of the third millennium
B.C. by the arrival of metalworking, the de-
Fig.5.19b Mycenae, Crave Circle A, sixteenth citadel in the thirteenth century b.c; recon- velopment of a flourishing textile industry,
century B.C., reorganized and enclosed within the struction view.
and the invention of clay turntables which
prefigure the potter's wheel. To this Bronze
Age episode belong the large communal

^'-m^^^^^^ MYCENAE ossuaries we mentioned above in the con-


text of the tholos tombs of Mycenae.
By 2000 B.C., the eastern half of the is-

^h'/'4'''^^^"''^^^4 OF GRAVE CKCLE land had attained a startlingly high level of


f^- *^-iT^^^ W^-
<#S^ih^''^ GKANARi" --i,Si=-/ ( -WITH FIRST STAGE OF
sophistication. Writtenrecords and large
royal embraced by prosperous
palaces
towns were the outward signs of this cul-
tural surge. The palaces were designed
around a rectangular court; the court ele-
vations reflected the character of the rooms
behind, which were grouped according to

function ceremonial, administrative, reli-
gious, or domestic. Most of the familiar
particulars of Cretan architecture porti-
coes with alternating columns and piers,
three-aisled hypostyle hails inspired by
Egypt, the practice of using large stone slabs
at the base of the walls or for framing
openings, lightwells and broad flights of

steps all of these were in full use in these
first palaces. They were almost completely

destroyed around 1700 by what scholars


now tend to agree was a devastating earth-
quake of the kind the Aegean is prone to.
The new palaces were built along the lines
of the first. Beginning with the spectacular

107
A PLACE ON EARTH

s- --xA

,^^j^-r / '-T^^-^-^Siic

*^^!*
Fig. 5.21 Minoan earthen jar with octopus, from
Palaikastro, ca. 1500 b.c. (Archaeological Mu- T"":-? *-^/:^^---:.-.v5-
**-**' '>Mi3F^.;.cr^,
seum, Heraklion, Crete)
; .-'^-'..inijv

Fig. 5.22 Phaistos (Crete), Minoan palace, ca. 1600


B.C.; view of central court looking north toward
Mount Ida.
digging up of Knossos by Sir Arthur Evans,
several of them have been sufficiently res-
urrected to give us a detailed picture of their
florid and literate design. (Fig. 5.22)
Despite their small size, the towns them-
selves, with their public institutions and ther down on the plain to the east, were suites on at least two stories along two sides
amenities,were worthy predecessors of the linked with secondary streets. of a paved courtyard. A landed gentry lived
Creek city-state, the polls. From the first The houses were small and densely in country mansions.

they made provision for an open place of packed; almost all had upper floors reached The intricate, seemingly haphazard, plan
assembly whose defining wall faces may by outside staircases. The ground floor was from Vasiliki is typical of Crete. The Mi-
have supported seats. A network of streets, often used as a storeroom, with no en- noan architect did not begin with general
topographically and functionally deter- trance from the street. But further up, the frames; he did not think in terms of neat
mined and retaining the dwelling patterns facade opened to the outside light by win- bounding outlines. (Fig. 5.25) )ust as the
of the Bronze Age villages on the same site, dows, as we can see clearly on a series of towns themselves were unwalled, so too the
converged on this town square and the tileplaques uncovered at Knossos that de- larger buildings, the royal palaces espe-
palace. Most were paved. And although in pict a Minoan townscape. (Fig. 5.24) These cially, were freely circumscribed. True fa-
time the palace gained prominence, the windows of four or six panes must have re- cades, in the main, were ordered toward the
sense of a lively community is always un- quired a transparent cover of some kind, court. Indeed, there is reason to believe that
mistakable. oiled parchment most likely an unusually the layout was planned from inside out, in
Cournia the northeast, on the bay of
in advanced feature for such an early date. To units radiating from the central court as their
Mirabello, has the best preserved layout. judge from the Knossos plaques, the houses function required. Two sides of the court
(Fig. 5.23) had about sixty houses a very
It were capped by a lantern or skylight serv- would be established first by straight lines
small town indeed in the company of Ba- ing as a light well for the interior; or, per- crossing one another at right angles. The
bylon or Hattusas. But the urban form is haps, that element should be interpreted as more important units would then be de-
cohesive and logical. A tight mesh of streets a pent roof or a summer room. The rule veloped in relation to these two baselines
wrapped itself around the low hill whose seemed to be single-family dwellings. But and in round numbers of Minoan feet.
saddle held the administrative and ritual there were multiresidences too, such as a In deference to the Coddess who dwelled

focus of the town, the king's palace. Two house from Vasiliki where dozens of rooms on mountaintops, and in sharp contrast to
main streets, one on the hill and one fur- were grouped somewhat arbitrarily into the haughty siting of Mycenaean citadels,

108
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

the palaces occupied slopes or flatland. And was to open up architectural form toward Aegean spheres as functioning societies.
the nature of the site was respected, even the prospects that befriended it. This is the (Fig. 5.15) Setting aside the disparate char-
courted. Hittite and Mycenaean apprecia- same respectful harmony with nature, the acter of their sites, both types of palaces are
tion of natural contours was based on de- same way of accepting things as they are encompassed within loose outlines. But the
fensive genius. Minoan design celebrated and singing of them, which we
noted in the heart of the Mycenaean palace is fixed in
the shape of the landscape even when there forms of Minpan art and its repertory of the megaron, the king's hall at which the
was no practical advantage to be derived animals and plants. gods are given hospitality. It is the largest
from it. The meadow's lilt, the skirting hill, Design is the graph of attitude. Compare element of the composition and an axial
the dipping down into valleys, and the climb a Mycenaean palace like that of Tiryns or approach toward it is set up which stiffens
to ridge-tops
all this was solidified into Pylos with the royal palaces of Crete, and the general layout and creates a hierarchy
architecture. The aim, to put it differently. you will have a truthful image of these two of use that is unequivocal.

Fig. 5.24 Faience plaques showing Minoan


Fig. 5.23 Cournia (Crete), Minoan town, seven- houses, from Knossos, ca. 1500 B.C. (Archaeo-
teenth to twelfth centuries B.C.; general site plan. logical Museum, Heraklion, Crete)

ns^

F O 50 too 300

M O 25 50 lOO

109
.'"'
-:v
S'.!i!ig.ji

:-'''^^^s;i/,^?.,

).--

'^^'' v'/l'.?,,
k.r'^ 1 /

"^f/;;fi

1, Lower Level (Magazines) 6 Theatre I Area 10. Stepped Causeway


2. Central Court 7 Official Entry 11 Pillar Hall

3 Piano Mobile 8. Throne Room (below 12 Hall of the

4. Workshop Area Piano Nobile) Double Axes


5 Royal Domestic Quarter 9 Corridor of the Procession 13 Queen's Megaron
F O 50 100 200 300
, \

M O 25 50 100

Fig. 5.25 Knossos, the royal palace, ca. 1600 B.C.;


axonometric drawing, with plans of major rooms
shown at selected levels.

110
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

mazelike character of the palace. First, a sively nearer southern prospect of the pal-
good part of what we see in the plan indi- ace.
cates basement and ground floor rooms; The domestic quarters similarly cascaded
the upper floors where the main state halls down the east slope of the knoll and
were may well have had a more formal or- opened up to the outside by airy verandas.
ganization. Second, there is at Knossos a Indeed, the purpose of keeping the royal
logic of functional grouping that imposes a apartments at ground level, while public
conceptual order on the visual irregulari- ceremonial rooms were relegated on the
ties of the composition. The central court whole to the upper floors, must have been
and its entrance passages bisect the plan precisely this wish to establish close con-
into a western and an eastern half. The tactwith the land, conceiving of it as an
western half is in turn bisected by a north- extension of the living spaces.
south passage that separates a row of mag- The approach was from the west.
official
azines from a higher series of ceremonial Ftere one can truthfully speak of a monu-
rooms, including the famous Throne Room. mental exterior facade. It overlooked a
The eastern half is divided in an east-west broad court paved with flagstones. The
sense by a passage, to the north of which lower part was blank and composed of up-
lie the workshops of palace craftsmen, and right slabs of alabaster; above this level the
to the south, the domestic quarters of the facade was punctured by square windows
1 Palace 6 Royal Villa royal family. framed in wood. The magazines, with their
2 Theatrol Area 7 Road to Harbor
Knossos in its heyday was probably a town stone-lined pits for storage and the huge
3 Stepped Causeway 8 Ml noon Rood
4 Caravanserai 9 South Road to Ptiaistos of 40,000 inhabitants. (Fig. 5.26)The palace clay jars containing olive oil, the gold of
5. Litfle Palace 10 Minoan Houses was set on a low rise shielded by gentle hills Knossos, lay below this level.
MILE O 0.1 05 from any sight of the sea. The knoll slopes One entered through a single-column
V_L/ KM sharply on the east and south sides toward porch of the kind we saw emulated at Py-
O 05 I.O
the stream of Kairatos. There was a harbor los, past a guardroom, and into the Corri-
Fig. 5.26 Knossos, general site plan of town. at the mouth of this stream. A main road dor of the Procession. On the walls of this
connected the harbor area with the palace. narrow passage were painted, on two reg-
This road passed by the Little Palace, prob- isters, five hundred life-size images of young

ably destined for ritual or ceremonial pur- men and women bearing offerings. The
poses or perhaps for a more intimate sum- corridor ran south for about 21 meters (70
At Knossos the path is not straight, the mer place; it then ran into the so-called feet) and then turned left, to arrive at the
goal not predetermined. The heart, if any- Theatral Area, a public space for some sort foot of a broad stair. At the top one discov-
thing, the all-purpose court. In the sur-
is of spectacle, with stair-seats along two ers a group of small rooms of ritual char-
rounding scheme, the functional hierarchy sides; and finally it reached a gatehouse in acter. Stairs from here led down to the
is diffuse, and since this is so, there is no the flank of the Pillar Hall, from which a Throne Room, which could also be en-
single-minded axis running through the passage of access ran south to the central tered directly from the central court by
complex. We might picturesquely speak of court. means of an anteroom, which housed a
the design as a labyrinth, and remind our- But there was an equally busy thorough- shallow prophyry basin for ablutions. (Fig.
selves that "labyrinth" is a word of Cretan fare that linkedKnossos with the principal 5.27) The throne, made of alabaster, sur-
origin. We see several storeys and half-sto- town of the south coast, Phaistos, across the vives. It was set against a frieze of griffins

reys flexibly stacked up, elevationsmade up Messara plain. Close to the palace this cross- and flanked by continuous benches, also of
of disparate and accretive elements, rooms island road went by a resthouse, the so- alabaster. Directly opposite the throne was
arranged in an involved pattern through called Caravanserai, it featured, among a stone-lined pit for water. For all its for-
which pass long corridors of communica- other amenities, a footbath for the weary mality, thismay not have been the most
tion with frequent turns and changes of traveler in which water, supplied by a di- important state room in the palace, which
level. Wandering through the remains of rect pipe, flowed constantly. Beyond that was probably located on the second floor
Knossos, we recall the story of the Mino- point the road became a stepped causeway along with the remaining halls of state. The
taur who resided in the depths of the lab- or viaduct, crossing the ravine of Kairatos lustral basins and the direct contact with the

yrinth built for him by crafty Daedalus, and and gaining the south edge of the palace in central court instead indicate that the so-
of Theseus who went in and killed him but a series of terraces defined by low side walls called Throne Room had cult functions as-
could find his way out only with the help supporting a double row of columns and a sociated with the bull dance, the great
of a guiding thread supplied by the native roof. Along some 90 meters (300 feet) of this public celebration of Minoan life.

princess Ariadne. The famous account covered and stepped causeway, the visitor The domestic wing on the opposite side
seems to be Cretan reality made myth. would have enjoyed both views of the sur- was built on two stories below the level of
We should not, of course, exaggerate this rounding countryside and the progres- the court. Above this, at least two addi-

111
A PLACE ON EARTH

tional stories must have existed originally.


The wing was served by a handsome stair-
case, with a light court to one side of it. (Fig.
5.28) Here, and throughout the palace, the
columns were wood and tapered down-
ward; they had cushion capitals, and both
shafts and capitals were painted
one black,
the other red. The downward taper and the
peculiar shape of the shaft, which was often
not rourld in cross section but oval, have
never been satisfactorily accounted for. At
the foot of this Grand Staircaseone came
to the Hall of the Double Axes, a room
paved with fine gypsum flagging; here the
walls were decorated with frescoes of great
"figure-eight" shields of bull hide and
carvings of two-bladed axes, the sacred
symbol of Minoan Crete called labrys. This
was probably the Men's Hall. Five piers di-
vided the space into two, and sets of dou-
ble doors between the piers could be drawn
shut or pushed aside depending on whether
it was desirable to isolate the two compart-

ments or unite them. Above the doors a Fig. 5.27 Knossos, royal palace, the "throne room
series of transoms may have been fitted with (no. 8 on Fig. 5.25).

waxed parchment to let light into the inner


compartment when the doors were kept
closed. To the east and south the Hall
opened out toward the landscape by means pant would grasp the horns as the bull Fig. 5.28 Knossos, royal palace, grand staircase (at
of verandas. rushed headlong down the length of the no. 5 on Fig. 5.25).
A small room just off this Hall is usually court and would vault over its back, land-
referred to as the Queen's Megaron. It was ing on the other side. The grace and lift of
delicately painted with marine scenes and this whole maneuver is represented in the
dancing girls, and the ceiling was deco- painting known as the Toreador Fresco. (Fig.

rated with an intricate pattern of spirals. 5.29) The memory of the ritual survives in
There were light wells on two sides, and a the later Creek myth of the Minotaur, the
small bathroom was attached, with its clay creature that was half bull and half man,
tub still in situ. whose demand of the yearly sacrifice of
The central court absorbed much of the seven maidens and seven youths from the
daily activity of the palace. But it was as the city of Athens brought Theseus to this spot
setting for the Minoan bull dance that this and made him an immortal hero.
space came alive. Initially at least, the bull
dance was connected with
a sacred ritual
the cult of the horned beasts which had
The Closing of the Bronze Age
preoccupied the communal mind since the
late Paleolithic period. Sacral horns were set About 1400 B.C., Knossos and all the other
up at certain points in the palaces, and a towns of Crete were devastated anew. The
distant cleft mountain on axis with the court, palaces collapsed, and the inhabitants
Mount Jouktas in the case of Knossos, may moved inland or migrated to Greece. At
have evoked this ancient symbol of the about this time, perhaps a little earlier, the
power. (Fig. 5.22)
earth's active Mycenaean overlords who had ruJed the
The audience sat in the porticoes along Creek mainland for two or three centuries
one of the long sides and at all the open- extended their sway over the island. But it

ings of the other court facades. Trained men isdoubtful that the Mycenaeans were per-
and women were pitted against the charg- sonally responsible for the ravage. It seems
ing bull. With agile courage, the partici- more and more likely that this wholesale

112
BRONZE AGE CITIES: THE AEGEAN AND ASIA MINOR

Linear B tablets from Pylos record emer-


gency preparations. Bronze cult objects
were melted down and made into points for
spears and arrows. Artisans were assigned
to military duties. The coast was hastily for-
tified. To no Several Greek tribes who
avail.

had hitherto been left out of the affairs of


the mainland, the Dorians among them,
now poured in carrying their lackluster iron
swords. They systematically sacked every
one of the great Mycenaean citadels.
The brilliant Bronze Age was over. The
Hittite empire had succumbed to migratory
pressures a little while earlier. Groups from
mainland Greece spread out onto Aegean
lVlVlYlVlVlVl^^v.VlVlVlVl^v.^?feiiV^^v.Y,VlV^?lWll'l^vww^^^
islands and the west coast of Asia Minor.
On the mainland the newcomers proved no
M l"^J.ll^'l ^M lA'JJ^* M 11 I ' I
match for the culture they so brutally dis-
ff""1f'-
I
I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I 1 I 1 1 1 I 1 I
' I

lllttillllUUIUIU4ltilMilLMilmut...lll>iini> ^1111
placed. They produced no architecture of
,
f

on comparable worth. By 800 b.c. when FHo-


Fig. 5.29 Knossos, royal palace, the "Toreador" east wing, to the right of no. 4 Fig. 5.25. (Ar-

fresco, originally in an upper-storey room of the chaeological Museum, Heraklion, Crete) mer wrote his poems about the splendid
age of the chief prince Agamemnon and his
treacherous wife Clytemnestra, of beauti-
ful Helen, of old Nestor, and crafty Odys-

seus, those giants of epic memory, the


destruction of Minoan civilization was the when "the sun was in the sky like the contemporary scene about him was dark by
outcome of an upheaval of nature, namely, moon." comparison.
the violent eruption of a volcano on the is-
Confusion seized the eyes there was no exit . . .
On the whole he reconstructs the glories
land of Thera, which is considerably to the and follies ofthe Mycenaean past know-
from the palace for the space of nine days. Now
north of Crete, where Santorini now lies. these nine days were in violence and tempest. ingly and compassionately. He slips on
At Thera, a Minoan colony left plentiful re- None could see the face of his fellow.
. . .
some details, as when he represents My-
mains, including rich wall paintings, which cenaean princes cremated rather than in-
have recently been dug from under the
So the Minoans who lived by nature may humed: cremation was introduced into
have been brought down by nature. For the
heavy layers of ash that now cover the small Greece by the Dorians. And when, at one
next two hundred years Crete functioned
cluster of islands in the area. Giant tidal bleak moment of his narrative, he mourns
modestly in the orbit of Mycenaean Greece,
waves and earthquakes occasioned by the the misery of the human condition, he
it taught the mainland princes much about
eruption wrought havoc as far away as Syria might be thinking of his own time more
nature cults, representational skills and
and North Africa. It may be that the apoc- justifiably than the golden age of Crete and
motives, and the art of living graciously. But
alyptic texts from Egypt of the Eighteenth Mycenae:
Dynasty refer precisely to this disaster. They
its own bloom was gone.
It carried on a

muted existence until a fresh threat to the Among all creatures that breathe
record a period of prolonged darkness, on earth and crawl on it
entire Greek world materialized on the
thunder, floods, a raging plague, and days There is not anywhere a thing
northern borders of the Mycenaean realm.
more dismal than man is.

Further Reading

E. Akurgal and M. Hirmer, The Art of the Hit- . Higgins, The Archaeology of Minoan Crete (New York: Abrams, 1960).
tites, trans. C. McNab (New York: Abrams, (London: Bodley Head, 1973). E.Mylonas, Ancient Mycenae (London: Rout-
1962). T. Hooker, Mycenaean Greece (London: Rout- ledge and K. Paul, 1957).
K. Bittel, Hattusha. Capital of the Hittites (New ledge & K. Paul, 1977). Warren, The Aegean Civilizations (London:
York: Oxford University Press, 1970). . Lloyd, Early Anatolia (Baltimore: Penguin, 1956). Elsevier-Phaidon, 1970).
C. W. Blegen, Troy and the Trojans (New York: G. Macqueen, 7"he Hittites and Their Contem- F. Wllletts, The Civilization of Ancient Crete
Praeger, 1963). poranes in Asia Minor (Boulder, Colo.: (Berkeley: University of California Press,
|. W. Graham, The Palaces of Crete (Princeton: Westview, 1975). 1978).
Princeton University Press, 1962). . Marinatos and M. Hirmer, Crete and Mycenae

113
Persepolis (Iran), royal palace, 518-460 B.C.
THE GREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

The Passing of the Bronze Age


The second millennium before Christ had constructions. Around the mountain lakes, been reached between the retarded West
been, for the easternMediterranean, a pe- quadrangular log cabins stood on neatly and the formerly progressive cultures of the
riod of prosperous and forward states. delineated straight streets paved with Aegean and Asia Minor. But with a differ-
Endowed with mobility and technical planks. ence. The collective mind in the eastern
acumen, these societies built supple The impact of eastern traders on this Mediterranean had at least memories of a
environments sympathetic with their polit- rusticworld was small but noticeable. We glorious past to fall back on and material
ical and social aims. Contemporary west- can point to rock-hewn chamber tombs and remnants of it as proof of its existence.
ern Europe by contrast must be seen as roughly made beehive tombs in Sicily, an Recovery was slow. The crucial century
backward. Despite the megalithic architec- occasional stronghold fortified with stone was probably the eighth. By then, stabiliz-
ture of Stonehenge, Malta, and some spots walls of irregular blocks, and even the re- ing forces both East and West could ensure
on the continent, nowhere did the struc- mains of an ambitious structure in the wilds firm government, an improved standard of
ture of society hint at the complex patterns of Pantalica above Syracuse, with a touch living, and an urban setting for the nurture
of civilized life that were displayed in Egypt of the Mycenaean palace about it. All of and development of a society. In the East
and Mesopotamia, the Aegean and Asia these indicate a raised architectural con- there was a revival, at the center of which
Minor. When intrepid Mycenaean sailors sciousness attributable to eastern example. stood Greece. The radiant Creek spirit, as
hugging the northern shores gained Sicily The nuraghi of Sardinia are more impres- expressed in architecture and especially the
and the Tyrrhenian in search of metal the sive still. They were watchtowers set on temple form, is the main concern of this
obsidian of Lipari, the copper of Sardinia, hilltops as part of a system of defense; the chapter.
and ores from the mines of Etruria be- oldest among them were in the form of

tween the Arno and Po rivers this area led truncated cones that held two or three su-
a simple pastoral life, innocent of urban- perimposed circular chambers with cor-
ism. belled vaults. (Fig. 6.1)
and southern Italy, the coun-
In central Toward the end of the millennium, mas- Fig. 6.1 Palmavera (Sardinia), a Bronze Age
trysideremained seminomadic; megalithic sive dislocations of peoples in the eastern watchtower (nuraghi), ca. 1200 B.C.; elevation.
tombs in Apulia, the peninsula's heel, were Mediterranean unmade the balance of
probably used as rallying places. Villages strong states and ushered in a dark spell of
took several different forms. Neolithic several centuries when cultural regression,
communities with circular earth ramparts or at best stagnation, was everywhere evi-
can be spotted throughout Apulia, as well dent. Invasions from the northern and
as in southern Etruria. Inside them were western fringes of the civilized sphere
smaller circular enclosures with their own brought down established orders, infil-

individual ditches, each containing dwell- trated native stocks, and caused many res-
ings for family groups and their cattle. Fur- idents to migrate. The Bronze Age and its
ther north, in the Po Valley and the Alpine brilliant cities folded. The downfall of the
region, we
find houses on piles. The river Mycenaean and Hittite empires returned
F O ID 60
were protected against floods by
villages their lands to a general level of low sub-
moats, earth ramparts, and even timber sistence. For once, cultural parity may have M 10 20

115
Fig. 6.2 Map: The Greek commonwealth and its proper including the mainland, the Aegean is-

neighbors in the seventh century B.C., with de- lands, and coastal Asia Minor (bottom right),
tail maps of Creek Sicily (bottom left), and Greece

^
^

. :^'>
-^-
^<. d^- ^^.;^ iS^^r;., i "mi
Nineveh ''---' ""^
""""'
""':"--.:s '"ii(((i'i"'>'>;'

, '''.Z\ y. s,,^-:...:..*'^
" "rtll'l"'

SusaV,,. W^- ^
S$^* PersepclisV

116
THE GREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

exploitation of iron show. At the time of the age to an iron age in which "man will never
Achaemenid dynasty, it could boast of an cease by day or night from weariness and
opulent, cosmopolitan culture whose most woe." The time of the heroes who had
famous extant theater is the palace of Dar- fought at Troy was long gone by its nos-
ius and Xerxes at Persepolis. (Fig. 6.23) In talgic retelling was Homer's subject. He-
the West, immigrants from Asia Minor (ac- siod,on the other hand, looked at post-
cording to the most likely theory) orga- Mycenaean Greece and the realities of his
nized northern Italy into a confederation of own time. He put all his faith in the plot of
strong cities. This Etruscan state, under the bad land on the slopes of Mount Helikon,
tutelage of neighboring Greeks who had which he and his brother Perseus inherited
colonized the southern half of the penin- from their father, and cultivated it doggedly.
sula and much of coastal Sicily, lifted the Community architecture was now simple
sleepy countryside north of the Tiber into and of uniform scale. Nothing like the My-
a period of heady urbanism; its hallmarks cenaean palaces was being attempted. The
were formal layouts, temples, bridges and houses were elliptical at first, then rectan-
aqueducts, and lavishly decorated mound gular and apsidal. They were one-room de-
tombs. tached structures of mud-brick on a foun-
The Greek commonwealth stood in the dation of stones or rubble. Shrines were not
midst of this new order, involved at one or much different, except for a small roughly
another level with all the young states as hewn, wooden statuette of the local deity
well as the venerable antiquity of Egypt. (Fig. called a xoanon. These frequently apsidal
6.2) it considered them all inferior to the chapels might have interior posts irregu-
self-governed polity of its own city-states. larly spaced, or arranged in one or two

They were all "barbarians," a term which


rows to facilitate the roofing of the main
meant both alien and not quite up to Greek space. They would also use a triangular truss
standards. But in the universal order of the at the facade end that shaped the tall gable

period, the Greek achievement was only in which a window would be cut, as well as

one of several manifestations of cultural a system of radial poles to support the hip
vigor, none demonstrably inferior to the roof over the apse. (Fig. 6.4) The overhang-
6.3 Greek "geometric" vase, with a scene of
Fig.
others. ing eaves were sometimes made to rest on
mourning for the dead, eighth century B.C. (Na- posts along the entire length of the struc-
tional Museum, Athens, Greece)
The Emergence of Greece
The details of the post-Mycenaean after-
math are unclear. It would seem that the
southbound Dorians, having achieved the Fig. 6.4 Creek shrine, votive clay model, from
violent overthrow of the Bronze Age cities Argos (Greece), eighth century B.C.
But Greece did not blossom miracu- in Greece, settled down to a village-cen-
lously in a cultural desert. In Asia Minor, tered rural life based on tribal loyalties and

beyond the coastal strip which it colo- the localized authority of chieftains and
nized, two small but significant powers, the deities.Land was owned in common. Cre-
Phrygians and Lydians, succeeded in up- mation replaced inhumation as the stan-
holding the raised hopes of the plateau. dard burial rite. The most striking relics of
Further east the Hittite empire, inreduced these dim years is in fact of a funerary na-
but still notable circumstances, roused it- ture: large stately vases for liquid offer-
self for a sunset career. Assyrians, long ings, decorated with geometric patterns.
locked in a stalemate with their powerful (Fig. 6.3)
neighbors, resumed an expansionist policy Iron, and not bronze, was now the chief
under Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 B.C.) until substance out of which weapons and tools
they were conquered a century later by were fashioned. The new metal became the
Medes from the Persian highlands and their physical symbol of the descent from a
capital city of Nineveh was destroyed. Per- sparkling past to a lackluster present. He-
sia itself reacted favorably to the stimulus siod, the Boeotian poet and rough con-
of an incoming group of Indo-European temporary of Homer, recounted gloomily
horsemen, as its fortified towns and wise in his Works and Days the fall from a golden

117

A PLACE ON EARTH

ture, except at the gabled front, which had


its own small porch. The roof, whether
pitched or flat, was covered with thatch.
Humble though they were, two aspects
of these village chapels foretold of the dis-
tinctive character of religious architecture
to come in the scheme
of the future Greek
chapels were now the
city-states. First, the
only special focus of the built area. The full-
grown temple will also figure later as the
principal architecturalbeacon of the cities,
and this because no human agency was to
seem exalted at the expense of others, as
the Minoan-Mycenaean palace had been.
Second, the chapels were intended for
the exclusive use of a god or goddess, and
not as congregational halls for worshippers
or as centers of the community's economic
or social structure. This intention, too, will
be carried forward into the urban phase of
Greek history. There was to be no power-
ful priestly class in charge of the temple and

its rites, along the lines of Egyptian or


Mesopotamian practice. The Greeks' rela-
Fig. 6.5 Olympia (Greece), sanctuary of Zeus;
tion to divinity was to be an open act around
general view of site.
monumental buildings, with laypeople per-
forming priestly duties as part of the re-
sponsibility of citizenship. The citizen owed
honor to the deities of the land but did not
belong to them in the way the citizens of which properly belonged to a god. The above all, these deities found hospitality at
Ur or Warka belonged to their titular dei- ziggurat or temple tower loomed in the built the king's hearth. (Figs. 5.13, 5.20) Homer
ties. The Greeks' allegiance to the city was environment, and the royal palace rested in makes clear that they had acquired the habit
to be secular, despite the preeminence of its shadow. With the Assyrians, the might of visiting Mycenaean palaces: "Athena . . .

religious architecture in the cityscape. The of the ruler tended to eclipse the presence crossed the barren seas, and came to Mar-
city itself was the faith, and the temple was of the deity, as we can see from the sec- athon and the broad streets of Athens,
its banner of fixity, the historic identifica- ondary standing of the ziggurat in the pal- where she entered the strong palace of Er-
tion of the people with the land vouched ace district of Khorsabad. (Figs. 3.14, 3.25b) echtheus." With the disappearance of these
for by the immortal beings who preceded The progress in Egypt was somewhat the mighty kings, the predictable happened in
human settlement. came
reverse. First the order of the Old Greece. Divinities took over. Being con-
The balance of the ancient world is al- Kingdom when the king was god, and the ceivedin human form, they were now ac-
ways that tenuous one of the human and land reflected this one-sided state of affairs commodated architecturally in houses
the divine. Like two forces that compete but by featuring as its most palpable marker the modest ones at first, and then more and
must also complement each other in the pyramid tomb which announced his cen- more magnificent ones in the course of
structure of life, humans, or their most po- tral authority. Then came the political time.
tent representative the king, and divinities, change that forced the king, under the New Evidence of this transfer of the people's
as they are interpreted by the priesthood, Kingdom, to accept a more modest role destiny can be found in two architectural
jostle for possession of the land and of among the gods and to allow their ritual facts. First, the basis for the form of the
communal destiny. Some sort of accom- setting, the temple, to dominate his land. mature mainland temple is the Mycenaean
modation is worked out by each culture, (Figs. 4.10,4.22) megaron. (Fig. 5.14) There are differences
depending on that culture's aspirations and In Crete and Mycenae the priesthood was of course. The continuous exterior colon-
outlook. Architecturally, the contest is be- clearly subordinate. There were no major nade of the mature temple was a Creek in-
tween the palace and the royal tomb on the temples. The deities lived in the open, in vention; the orientation of the Mycenaean
one hand, and the temple on the other. groves and caves and mountaintops where megaron was north to south, while the
In Mesopotamian city-states, the king was they originated. Altars and small shrines in temple customarily faced east; and instead
content to serve as the caretaker of the city. these spots focused popular devotion. But, of the flat roof of megara, all stone temples

118
THE GREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

had gabled roofs. But the sequence of the


columned porch in antis and the main rec-
tangular chamber beyond is unmistakable.
The shift was in occupancy: the royal hearth
was displaced by the statue of the deity.
The second point is topographical. The
literary and archaeological evidence shows
that at some sites early temples were built
on the grounds of a former Mycenaean
palace. This was so at the Akropolis of Ath-
ens. Sometime during the dark centuries a
chapel or shrine dedicated to the goddess
Athena was planted in "the strong palace
of Erechtheus," overlapping the megaron.
Athena who came to visit in the old days
was now permanently at home.
Athena and several other major deities of
the later Olympian pantheon were known
to the Mycenaeans. Whatever deities of
their own the Dorians may have brought in,

these extant cults were not suppressed. On


the contrary, together with a common lan-
guage they were the chief source of Creek
unity. When in the eighth century the Greek
commonwealth started in earnest to forge
a national identity, this heritage of a holy
family helped to transcend the local alle-
giances of the hundreds of communities
that dotted the tough Creek land and its
newfangled colonies. Homer's poems
sharpened the specific personalities of these
gods and goddesses, demystifying them by
imparting them with human foibles and
weaknesses.
Two cults stood out as particularly im-
portant to this Panhellenic effort. At Olym-
pia in southern Creece, Zeus as the father
of the holy family was honored by all. (Fig.
6.5) In an ample grove at the foot of a hill
sacred to Kronos (the deposed parent of
Zeus and his sister-wife Hera), games were
instituted beginning in 776 B.C. Every four
years, a moratorium would be declared on
the bitter rivalries of the Creek communi-
ties,and here at the grove athletes would
converge to compete on behalf of their fel-
lows and to gain honor from almighty Zeus.
A significant complex of buildings grew at
Olympia during the next three centuries that
included a stadium, a row of treasuries set
up by individual Creek cities, and two large
temples dedicated to Hera and Zeus.
Fig. 6.6 Delphi (Greece), sanctuary of Apollo; The other cult was that of Apollo, the ov-
general view of site. erseer of the oracle at Delphi. (Fig. 6.6) Be-
fore the setting down of written laws in the

119
A PLACE ON EARTH

sixth century B.C., this oracle had emerged carried his own weapons, as each person
as the general fount of wisdom, the dis- was ultimately accountable for his or her
penser of binding advice that softened the own good relations with the immortal pro-
harsh ancestral morality of tribal living with tectors of the city and its laws.
a new doctrine of moderation and respect
for civilized order. The craggy wild of the
site testified to the violent struggle be-
The Greek Temple
tween old underworld forces, like the snake
Pytho, and the young god who in over- Creek temples served simultaneously as the
coming these forces trampled basic fear and symbol of a broad union of Creeks a union
made reason triumph. There in the tossed predicated upon a common religion, a
land, over the chasm of the earth, Apollo's common tongue, and the belief in a com-
temple rose as a trumpet call to measure mon ancestryand also as the symbol of
and self-control. Many of the early temples each city's special involvement with one of
in mainland Greece and abroad were ded-
the immortals Samos with Hera, Ephesos
icated to the Lord Apollo. Colonies were with Artemis, Corinth with Apollo, Athens
usually established on the advice of his with Athena. They had, then, both general
Delphic oracle. and particular validity; they distinguished
The Panhellenic community that such a Creek from "barbarian" and one Creek city
national church encouraged corresponds from the others. The message of the tem-
with the rise of the po/;s or city-state at the ple to its own audience, from the Tyrrhen-
regional level. The Creeks embraced ur- ian to the Black Sea, was that the same ar-
banism as a matter of choice. The polis did chitecture and religious iconography could
not respond to a major technological ad- be used to make very individual state-
vance or the push of commerce. It was not, ments. The message of the temple to the
initially at least, a manufacturing or mar- alien world was that of a free people, sub-
keting center; if anything, it remained an ject to neither king nor priest: "The whole
overgrown agricultural village dependent on folk year by year, in parity of service is our
the traditional labor of the countryside. The king," as the playwright Euripides was to put
importance of urban organization lies in the it about Athens. In this larger sense, in what

desire to go beyond the common law of it stands for as much as in the way it looks,
tribe and clan, to live under controllable the temple remains a uniquely Creek
institutions of self-government. achievement.
The Creek was founded on two con-
city There were, of course, some borrow-
away from a pa-
cepts that typify the turn ings
both in the built form itself and in the
triarchal and custom-bound society and its art that enhanced it. Already in the eighth
burden of aidos, "that vague sense of re- century, the geometric style of the funer-
spect for gods and men," as one scholar ary vases was being overlaid by a hybrid
describes it, "and shame of wrong-doing language of curvilinear designs, plants, and
before earth and sky." One of these con- intimidating beasts borrowed from the late Fig. 6.7Creek vase in the "orientalizing" style,
cepts was the right of private property, phases of Anatolian, Mesopotamian, and seventh century B.C. (Louvre, Paris)
which spelled the breakdown of the tribal Egyptian art. (Fig. 6.7) At the same time.

common land. The other concept was in- Homer's consolidation of fable into his-
dividual freedom, the faith in human parity toric memory was finding a visual counter-
that is the opposite of the self-reducing part in the potter's workshop. It is out of
collectiveness of tribal destiny. The social this visual codification of myth, scenes in-
grouping was now, theoretically at least, one volving Herakles or the wily Odysseus, that a country with which the Greek world had
of equals bound by their own decision- the formulae of temple art were to emerge. been in close contact at least since the sev-

making and administered by elected mag- In architecture, however, foreign influ- enth century. This lesson in architectural
The hearth became the
istrates. city, and ence went beyond the importation of
far expression swept aside the early folk ex-
every Creek became above all a citizen, specific motifs. The great "barbarian" les- periments and brought forth the strong,
there to fight for the city's interests and son was monumentality, the power of an salient form of the Greek temple that we can
guide its affairs. There was to be no orga- architecture of public scale built of cut stone still see in hundreds of sites throughout the

nized military system, any more than there and made pregnant with communicative Aegean, southern Italy, and Sicily. It is this
was an organized priesthood. Each man sculpture: and the great teacher was Egypt, luminous stone specter in the landscape

120
THE CREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

in so doing he changed the concept of the


temple from a tabernacle of the holy image
to an external thing, a form that mattered
as a mid-space object and had visual valid-
ity from all sides. The ring of uniform

wooden posts outside prevented the long


narrow hall from being read as a simple
container and obscured the distinction be-
tween the open entrance end and the solid
end with the cult statue. The house of the
deity was on its way to becoming the mon-
ument and talisman for the city. And, in fact,
this conceptual advance is what is so rev-
olutionary about these early temples. The
continuous portico was never wide enough
to provide usable space. The practical ad-
vantage of being able to extend the eaves
beyond the walls, and thus protect the mud-
brick structure from rain, had already been
recognized in the first stage. Besides, when
a generation or two prior to 600 b.c. stone
Fig. 6.8 Corinth (Greece), temple of Apollo, sixth columns began to replace the wooden
century B.C.; view of remains.
posts, and ashlar masonry the mud-brick of
the walls, such practical considerations were
clearly irrelevant.
3. The shift to permanent materials was

completed with the invention of terra-cotta


that has been, along with Roman law, the doned in favor of strict rectangularity. The tiles as a new roofing material. Since these
Bible,and the plays of Shakespeare, one of cult room, or cella, created a tunnel view tileswere not fastened to the roof but were
the prime staples of the Western imagina- toward the statue at the far end. This view kept in place by their own weight, the
tion. could be kept clear only by limiting the steepness of the roof was moderated to an
We should distinguish three overlapping width of the room. Ampler proportions easy rise, visually more stable and more in
stages in the evolution of the Creek tem- usually called for a central row of supports, tune with the height of the stone columns
ple. which either blocked the view or forced the at the two short ends than the earlier high-
1. To the first stage belong the apsidal one side of the central axis.
statue to pitched gables had been. (Fig. 6.11) These
chapels prevalent in the obscure period The peristyle made these internal ar- two ends were made to look identical even
following the Dorian occupation of main- rangements of minor consequence. (Fig. beyond the peristyle layer by the addition
land Greece. The domestic character of 6.8) This formal portico that surrounded the of a false back porch to the main body of
these structures, their literal function as entire outline of the cella, including the the cella, matching the entrance porch of
houses of local deities, is evidenced not entrance front, may have been employed the east front. (Fig. 6.16) In its plan the cella
only in their basic form but also in the fact first in the temple of Hera on the island of now resembled the megaron type of Troy
that some among them included a hearth Samos, which was built sometime in the II. (Fig. 5.9)
within the cult room. early eighth century. Once again, however, it would be per-
2. This initial experimental stage, when So far, the temples we have studied in the verse to explain the choice of stone col-
the structure of the Creek pantheon was still Near East fall into two classes. They either umns in the peristyle as the practical re-
vague and the Creek nation still unformed, have cult rooms which are hermetically quirement for the heavy tiles. Masonry
was superseded by a generation of temples sealed from the outside, as is the practice structure and tiles both were the outcome
noteworthy for two things: their compara- in Egypt, or else the temple envelope is of a new vision that required a new tech-
tively larger size and the appearance of the perforated with windows that bring in am- nology and had to do with intangible gains,
peristyle. The period in question, the eighth ple light, the solution of Temple I at Hat- such as community pride and faith in the
and seventh centuries, corresponds with the tusas. (Figs. 4.18, 5.5) The effect of the peri- city's stability and strength. This mood of
rise and early success of the po//s, wide- style is very different. Rather than opening confidence that was articulated in the new
spread colonization, and the genesis of a up the cella walls toward the light, the architecture also accounts for the simulta-
common Creek tradition and faith. The ap- Creek builder at Samos chose to enshrine neous rebirth of large-scale stone sculp-
sidal form was now everywhere aban- this hall within an architectural screen, and ture, absent from the Creek scene since the

121
A PLACE ON EARTH

days of Mycenae. Public statues of young Egyptian manner. At any rate, the bor-
men and women singled out for athletic rowed preliminaries were digested within
prowess or exceptional virtue began to the span of a generation, and the Doric or-
people the periphery of the temples. (Fig. der emerged as a quintessentially Greek
6.9) These full-size images were not set up system of design. So did the Ionic order,
as individual portraits but, instead, existed some fifty years later than the Doric, in the

as civic monuments generalized pres- Greek cities of the eastern Mediterranean.


ences honoring the city through its choice The names of their creators have been
citizens. preserved the record: Trophonios and
in
That architecture and sculpture were Agamedes, the legendary pair associated
thought to be integral to this public display with the stone temple at Apollo's Del-
first

of a city's prosperity and glory suggested


is phi; Theodoros, who worked on the huge
by the fact that early architects like Theo- temple of Hera at Samos, which superseded
doros of Samos were equally well known as the timber structure we spoke of above;
sculptors. They were in charge of the total Chersiphron, the designer of the temple of
decorative program of the temples which Artemis at Ephesos. The task they faced, to
at this time began to include figured panels embrace a technology that differed funda-
in painted terra-cotta (a device probably mentally from the traditional building
learned from Assyria) and stone reliefs. The methods of wood and mud-brick, was
spare, almost heraldic, depiction of famil- comparable to that of Imhotep at Saqqara
iar subjects, the deeds of immortals and 2,000 years earlier.
completed the statement of the
half-mortals, Quarrying and transporting the stone
temple, the fabled content of the scenes were their principal worries; construction
supplying the citizenry with the archetypes techniques and structural soundness were
of a shared morality. rudimentary. Beginner's caution probably
The very first stone temples seemed to accounts for the overbuilt forms the thickly
have appeared in the northeastern corner spaced peristyle columns (at times mono-
of the Peloponnesus, at places like Corinth lithic), heavy superstructures, massive
and Isthmia, and outposts within their
in foundations. Chersiphron, we are told,
cultural Thermon in the re-
sphere, like sought the advice of Theodoros of Samos
mote region west of Delphi. It is surely not regarding the Ephesian temple's stability on
fortuitous that this sudden show of con- its marshy site; he was instructed to put a

structive courage should be staged in the layer of ashes (packed charcoal, according
where the ruins of
area of the Argolid plain to another source) beneath the founda-
the two greatest Mycenaean citadels, Ti- tions to keep the stone blocks from sink-
ryns and Mycenae, proclaimed past ac- ing. Chersiphron wrote a book about his
complishment and invited revival, even experiences with the new technology, in
though the stone temples showed little which he explained the mechanical device
formal and technical similarity to this My- he had used for transporting column drums
cenaean precedent. from the quarry to the site. These were too
The initial source, for the mechanics of large to be carried in ox-drawn wagons, so
stone-cutting as well as the conventions he set them in cylindrical frames of wood
was Egypt. Even the
of large-scale sculpture, that could be pulled along like enormous
Doric column, the central element of rollers. (Fig. 6.10)
the decorative order that was invented on The general attitude in the ancient world
the spot and was adhered to in mainland was to submerge the identity of the archi-
Greece and the Western colonies for at least tect in the person of his powerful patron,
three centuries, favored the Egyptian look. the king or minister who commissioned the
The capital itself may well have been in- building. This is the case with Mesopota-
spired by the Mycenaean examples on the mian and Hittite architecture. In Egypt, we
triangular relief of the Lion Gate and the know a fair number of state architects by
facade of the so-called Treasury of Atreus. name, and we have plenty of evidence that Fig. 6.9 Archaic Greek kouros, athlete named Bi-
(Fig. 5.17) But Doric columns did not adopt they were held in high esteem and exer- ton, ca. 600 B.C. The statue stands over 2 meters
(7 feet) high. (Museum, Delphi)
the peculiarly Minoan-Mycenaean inverse cised considerable power as supervisors of
taper; instead, they tapered upward in the vast and costly public projects. But their

122
THE GREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

against other exponents of this same norm.


And because this was so, every building
could convey precise meaning against a
background of familiarity.
The stone temple of mainland Creece and
its full decorative panoply, the Doric or-
der, was an It did not con-
ideal invention.
stitute, as a mechanistic view would have
it, the gradual translation into masonry of

conventional timber forms. It seized upon


the possibilities of the new technology to
restate the principal theme of religious ar-
chitecture as typified by the first peripteral
temples of the eighth and early seventh
centuries. In so doing, it expressed some
of the effects of wood detailing rather than
trying to petrify them exactly. It is there-
fore not very fruitful to seek precise refer-
ences in timber construction for individual
elements of the Doric order, to see trig-
lyphs as beam ends and columns as tree
trunks. It is the contrast and not the trans-
Fig. 6.10 Two ways of transporting stone build-
ference that needs to be stressed. This is
ing blocks in the sixth century B.C., according to
plain when we set side by side the recon-
ancient Creek sources; reconstruction drawing.
structed elevations of the temple of Ar-
temis at Kerkyra (Corfu), about 600 B.C.,
where the Doric order appeared in full
craft was secretive. The architect practiced the site. There they would be trimmed form, and that of the second temple of Hera
with the aid of documents, including draw- down to their final surface for proper fit- at Samos from the mid-seventh century,
ings, thatwere considered to be divinely ting.The finishingand assembly of the with its flimsy timber armature and its ner-
inspired and were kept in the archives of hundreds of premade units were the most vous verticality. (Fig. 6.11)
temples and other official institutions. He exacting responsibilities of the architect. Once launched, this system of design re-
was prominent precisely because of this mained fairly stable, except for corrective
privileged access to occult sources, since 7^e DoWc Order changes that smoothed out infelicities of
literacy was the exclusive attribute of high Matters of technique and construction, form and heightened the expressive im-
courtiers and the priesthood. Senmut, the though obviously important, were not the pact. This of course is a statement of gen-
famous architect and intimate of Queen prime testing ground of Creek architects. eral fact. The evolutionary process could
Hatshepsut, boasted of this distinction on The mettle of Creek built form lies in seemly have been neither entirely systematic nor
the walls of his tomb: "I had access to all appearance. predictable. Regions marched at a varying
the writings of the prophets; there was Creek thinking is at once typal and spe- pace and offered different solutions to the
nothing which did not know of that which
I cific.It takes on an idea (or a form, which same design challenges. On occasion a
had happened since the beginning." is nothing other than a congealed idea),
Doric temple the temple of Zeus at the
The Creek architect was not so exalted, nourishes and perfects it through a series Sicilian town of Akragas (Agrigento) is a
but he was a respected professional whose of conscious changes, and in this way in- good instance would take so many ex-
name was on public record and whose craft forms it with a kind of universal validity that traordinary liberties that it would seem to
was accessible in trade books and trea- seems irrefutable. The process is in fact defy the essential constant of its norm. Fi-
tises. His patron was commonly the city, as ideal, that is, based on "the perfection of nally, we must allow that the results of the
represented by its governing bodies. These kind." It presupposes orderly develop- evolutionary process could have been very
government agencies set the budget and ment and the practicability of consumma- different from what we know them to be.
appointed a building commission to work tion. Creek architecture is, by this defini- There is no strict determinism in the his-
closely with the architect in procuring the tion, conservative. It invented little, and tory of architecture. Tidy accounts of de-
designs and putting the project out to
in invention was slow. License was disci- velopment can be drawn by historians only
contract. The contractors were responsible plined, and quality filtered through self- because they know how it all came out, and
for cutting and shaping the blocks at the imposed restriction. Every building existed they can therefore rationalize a quirky string
quarry and for transporting them safely to within the limits of its norm and was judged of choices so that it seems predestined.

123
A PLACE ON EARTH

O 25

M O 10

Fig. 6.11a Samos (Greece), the second temple of Fig. 6.11b Kerkyra (Corfu, Greece), temple of Ar-
Hera, mid-seventh century B.C.; conjectural el- temis, ca. 600 B.C.; restored elevation.
evation.

Let us now take a close look


at the Doric through the act of building. We should gular shape of this terrace clearly an-
temple. The first we
should notice is
thing neither consider the temple, then, merely nounced that the finished temple would not
that the temple was a supremely artificial as a thing in itself, a beautiful shell inde- attempt to blend in with its surroundings.

construct a luminous presence of right pendent of its setting, nor should we as- The three continuous steps all around the
angles and sharp geometries. It stood apart sume that the setting had primarily pictur- edge of the terrace would lift the temple
in the land, a monument of a vital abstrac- esque value, as if the land were a neutral above the land and make it equally ap-
tion, eschewing the studied fusion with the element which the builders made use of to proachable from all sides. The length and
natural site, which was the aim of Minoan- add visual interest to their own creation. width of the top platform would determine
Mycenaean design or the city defenses of For the land was not neutral. Where the how many columns the temple would have
Hattusas. Greece is devoid of great sweeps temple came to stand was not a matter of along the flanks and across the two fronts,
of nature like the Egyptian desert, devoid arbitrary choice. The choice had been made as well as their spacing.
too of grandiloquent mountain chains or before any temples were up, by what had This spacing depended on two things: the
broad navigable rivers. The contrasts are once transpired on the land. Here Leto had choice of a lower diameter for the col-
dramatic but on an intimate scale: defiles leaned against a bay tree while giving birth umns, which in turn woud dictate their
and precipitous valleys that might become to Apollo; there Athena and Poseidon had height; and the disposition of the frieze
contested boundaries between city-states; fought for the privilege of ruling Attica; here above the peristyle which determined, as
small cultivable plains boxed in by naked divinity was befriended at the hearth of a we will see, whether the spaces between
mountains, which are themselves small but Mycenaean king or appeased at some cave columns would be of uniform width, or
also visually explosive because of the con- or spring source or mountaintop. The hal- whether there would be variation between
stricted formation of the land; and craggy, lowed spot was thus predetermined: from the middle range of columns and those at
wind-battered, inhospitable shores with few the earliest altar setupon it to the latest the corners of the rectangle. In other words,
natural harbors or easy beaching facilities. temple, would be respected and cele-
it made pre-
the upper parts of the building
It is against all this that the temple stood, brated. Even where the terrain was ex- cisedemands on the lower, and each ele-
its form the very opposite of the agitated tremely unpromising, as at Perachora on the ment was not only proportionally gener-
landscape. (Fig. 6.6) Gulf of Corinth, the temple went up where ated but also proportionally keyed to all

This contrast of the natural and the de- it did because it had to. (Fig. 6.12) other elements of the design.
vised is at the heart of Creek religious ar- The first step in the monumental com- The number of columns for the standard
chitecture. It heralds both the separate- memoration of the sacred site was the ter- peristylewould be set at 6 by 14, counting
ness of human achievement from the dark
race the element that would horizontally the corner columns twice, but early tem-
ancient forces of the land and the propitia- define the space and serve as the pedestal ples sometimes had longer flanks. The col-
tion of these divinely controlled forces for the structure. The freestanding rectan- umns were stood up along the edge of the

124
THE GREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

walls. Fluting was done on the spot, after


all the drumsof a column were in place.
Normally there were twenty flutes per col-
umn. This pattern of arrised grooves pulled
the individual drums together and created
the illusion of flow along the length of the
unified cylinder.
The idea of emphasizing the function of
liftingby the curved profile and surface
treatment of the shaft was an old one. A
primitive form of both tapering and entasis
had been attempted in the sarsen uprights
of Stonehenge. Fluting had been applied to
wooden columns in Minoan-Mycenaean
architecture, and much earlier in Egypt
where entasis was also a common practice.
There is in fact a striking resemblance be-
tween Doric columns of the sixth and fifth
centuries B.C. and some of the attached
columns at Zoser's Saqqara complex 2,000
years earlier. (Fig. 4.6)

The Doric capital made the transition from


the circular column shaft to the bridging
blocks of the architrave above. The capital
two parts, a flaring echinus that
consists of
broadens the circle of the shaft top and
brings it in line with the scale of the super-
structure, and the square unit of the aba-
cus on which the architrave blocks rest. This
is a purely geometric cushion of juncture

between support and load, with no refer-


ence to natural forms like plants or trees.
Consequently, we cannot read the column
in any literal sense, but must respond to it

as an abstraction, or rather as a metaphor.


Perhaps inevitably in the light of their self-
Fig. 6.12 Perachora (Greece), sanctuary of Hera and further up,
a fourth-century stoa just behind,
awareness, the metaphor of the Creek col-
Akraia (Hera of the Cliffs); general view. The ar- beyond the modern structure, the remains of a
chaic temple in the immediate foreground, with
umn has to do with the human body. It is
is Hellenistic cistern.
as though we are there bearing the load of
the superstructure and would know in our
own bodies, empathetically, what is too
much or too little for the constitution of the
stylobate, the topmost of the three terrace to 12 times as tall as its capital. At the same columns. At issue is the appearance of a fair
steps, without bases. (Fig. 6.8) The drums time, the upward taper of the columns was balance. The column height and its thick-
were plain and had a hole in the center, so also being reduced, so that the flare of the ness in mass of the super-
relation to the
that they could be twisted about a peg as lower member of the capital, or echinus, structure are determined with a sense of
they were piled one on top of the other would not be quite as forceful as it had been visual, justice, so that both look adequate to
until they were tightly fitted together. In the in the sixth-century temples. their task even if, in the narrow structural
sixth century, the height of the shafts mea- It was this taper as well as the entasis, or context, one or the other, the colonnade or
sured 4.5 to 5 times the lower diameter; the the slight bulging of the shaft profile, that itsburden, might actually be overbuilt.
column was 8 times as high as its capital. gave Doric columns a look of vitality and The principle of empathy is central to the
The tendency was to make these propor- expressed their load-bearing function. The understanding of Greek architecture. It
tions leaner and more elegant in the course fluting of the shaft also helped to convey comes about intangibly, through the pro-
of decades, so that by the fifth century the this feeling of compression, while at the portional interlocking of the members,
relation of diameter to shaft was 1:5.5 or same time it distinguished the shaft from the which evokes the proportional relation-
even 1:5.75, and the total column stood 11 smooth background masonry of the cella ships of a standing human. Proportion, ac-

125
A PLACE ON EARTH

cording to the Classical theorist Vitruvius,


"is acorrespondence among the measures
of the members of an entire work, and of
the whole to a certain part selected as
standard ... as in the case of those of a
well-shaped man." This description and the
fact that the units of measurement them-
selves are derived from members of the
human body the palm, the foot are not
unique to, Creek architecture. But the
phrase "as in the case of those of a well-
shaped man" implies a physical affinity be-
tween user and building so that, for ex-
ample, the ratio of column to capital could
not be too far removed from the ratio of the
human frame to its head. It is this affinity
that enables us to comprehend the scheme
of the peristyle,and what the column is ca-
pable of, in terms of our own capabilities,
in the end, this humanly inspired reason-
ableness of built form is what distinguishes
the experience of a Creek temple from the
crushing gigantism of Egyptian structures.
(Fig. 4.20)

The architrave completes the vertical def-


inition of the peristyle. It is a band of stone

that separates the colonnade proper from


the crowning elements of the temple the
frieze, the gables, or pediments at the two Fig. 6.13 Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily), the so-called
short ends, and the roof (Fig. 6.13) In real- Temple ot Concord, later fifth century B.C.

ity the architrave is not made, as it appears

to be, of a line of single blocks bridging


pairs of columns but, instead, of two such
blocks, one behind the other, extending
from the center of one capital to the center metopes against which sculptured scenes to be displaced in relation to the corre-
of the next. The plain surface of the archi- stood in relief. We
might today be startled sponding capitals below. This created a
trave effectively distinguishes the struc- by the notion that good limestone or mar- wider space between these corner tri-
tural reality ofthe peristyle from the ap- ble should be concealed by bright paint. glyphs and their immediate neighbors than
plied decorative scheme of the frieze, Faithfulness to the nature of materials is, between any other pair of triglyphs. Two
whose component parts, the alternating however, a relatively modern concern. The solutions were espoused to deal with
triglyphs and metopes, repeat schemati- Creek architect was interested in clarity; he the problem (Fig. 6.14). One, favored
cally the rhythm of alternating columns and felt no scruples about tampering with the by the Greeks of Sicily and south Italy, in-
voids in the peristyle. texture and hue of stone for the sake of volved the progressive stretching of the
The play between the actual thing and its proper distinctions. frieze elements next to the corner. In
apostrophe was originally highlighted by the The appropriate place for triglyphs was mainland Creece, the irregularity was off-
use of color. The colonnade and its archi- directly above the columns they recalled, set at ground level by reducing the span of
trave were not painted. If a porous stone centered over each capital. But since the the columns close to the corner, a proce-
had been selected, a coat of stucco would proportion of mass to void in the peristyle dure known as angle contraction. Some-
ordinarily be applied to cover up the rough could not be approximated in this way, ad- times a combination of both systems would
texture; marble columns were sometimes ditional triglyphs were placed in the center be used.
waxed so that they would gleam under the of each intercolumniation. The architec- The tiled roof and the two pediments
strong Creek light. The frieze up above, turalsymbolism required that triglyphs oc- formed the crowning unit that projected
having no true structural accountability, was cupy the corners of the frieze, since col- beyond the line of the frieze. This unit
painted gaily blue for the triglyphs, whose umns defined the corners of the
four closed off the peristyle screen to create a
grooves echoed the fluting of the actual peristyle. To be flush with the corners, the stone canopy that sheltered the cella
columns, and red for the background of the last triglyphs on each side of the temple had building with its cult statue. It seems evi-

126
THE GREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

dent from temples left unfinished that the if we have been made aware of them. (Fig.
celia building was constructed, despite the 6.13) They are intentional and evident dis-
inconvenience, after the peristyle screen tortions render the otherwise thor-
that
had been set up. It was the screen, then, oughly rational design of the temple live and
that mattered most in the expression of the spry. If we do not ordinarily notice them,
program, both in terms of form and as a it is precisely because they are so success-

religious statement. ful that they become part of the natural im-

The priority of the screen meant that the age of the Creek temple. "The eye," John
temple was conceived primarily as an ex- Ruskin once wrote, "is continually influ-
terior presence. Indeed, it leaned against enced by what it cannot detect. ... It is
nothing and had no backdrop except the most influenced by what it detects least."
land shapes around it or the cityscape. It In religious terms as well, the peristyle

was mid-space architecture par excellence. screen was preeminent. The cult statue in
To stress this point, the screen was made the cella would be glimpsed through the
visually continuous. The three steps went doors that were opened during important
allaround the terrace; the frieze wrapped observances. The daily intercourse with the
itselfaround the top like a fancy ribbon. godhead took place in the open. At the level
There was, in appearance at least, no front of the terrace, the temple was surrounded
and back to the building, no designated by statues, mostly of humans the stand-
entrances. Every approach, ideally, was ing life-size images of nude male youths and

i j j j 11 valid: every intercolumniation could func-


tion as a door.
from a fixed
To bring home
line of access, the path
this freedom
from
draped women set up by their cities as me-
morials of special excellence. They peo-
pled the sacred precinct and underscored
the precinct gate often cut an oblique line that peculiarly human scale of Creek archi-
to the temple, so that two sides of the tecture we spoke about earlier. The met-
building would be visible at once. (Fig. 6.16) opes and pediments received sculpture too,
Meanwhile the architect took pains to all of it religious. These sculptures were
have thismid-space object spring force- reared aloft by the columns of the peri-
fully from the ground. To achieve this look style. Nonetheless, they could clearly and
of vitality, he incorporated in his design a unequiviocally be seen by all users of the

Fig. 6.14 The "corner problem" in the Doric


whole gamut of visual subtleties. (Fig. 6.15) temple precinct and in the open daylight.
temple. The diagram, with vertical guidelines that The groundline of the terrace gently curved The temple, in this sense, was the meeting
are equally spaced, indicates the two alternative upward toward the middle of each side. The ground of the human and the divine. At the
adjustments: top, enlarging the width of me- columns, as we have already observed, ta- same time that humans were lifted up by
topes toward the corner; and bottom, reducing pered and had slightly convex profiles. In the proud and measured soaring of the
the span between the corner columns, or "angle columns inclined
addition, the four-corner columns, deities came down to the level of
contraction." inward and back, and they were also made human visibility. (Fig. 7.21)

thicker than the rest. Angle contraction, This, then, is the Doric temple as it ma-

where it was resorted to for the sake of the tured in Creece during the sixth and fifth
corner triglyphs, further strengthened the centuries B.C. It registered, close up,
visual articulation of the temple corners. through the special arrangement and pro-
These refinements are commonly ex- portions of its parts; and in the distant view,
plained as corrective measures designed, for through its interaction with natural ele-
example, to counter the appearance that the ments like the mountains and the sea. There
straight lines sag; curving the lines would was also an intermediate frame, the holy
make them look straight to the naked eye. precinct, defined by a wall that narrowed
We had noticed similar adjustments before the landscape at large and that established
in the great ziggurat of Ur-Nammu at LJr. a fixed boundary within which the temple
Philon of Byzantium in the late third cen- was played against smaller buildings such
tury B.C. wrote that such optical compen- as treasuries, altars (and especially the
sation was necessary to prevent things that principal altar to the east of the temple on
"were in fact of equal thickness and which the open-air ritual focused), and
straight" from appearing not to be so. But dozens of votive monuments.
Fig. 6.15 Creek refinements, or visual adjust- actually some of the refinements, for ex- Within the precinct, the interplay of the
ments in Creek temple design, exaggerated for
ample, the rise of the stylobate and en- looming mass of the temple and these
emphasis; diagrammatic drawing.
tasis, are easily detected for what they are smaller foils to its visual statement was a

127
:.:^M^:<^Mf^^g0^

F O 50 lOO 300 600


LJ ,_^ 1 I I

M O 25 50 100 200
Fig. 6.16 Delphi, the sanctuary of Apollo; gen-
eral site plan ca. 400 b.c.*

128

THE CREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

vigorous, constantly changing relationship. tion, and change through time. The teme- proper, broad-based reverence, and to hold
(Fig. 6.16) the buildings and statues
First, nos was caught in a process of continuous down the extravagant spaces, the religious
were seen according to the way the wor- becoming; yet it was also complete at every architecture of Greek Sicily and southern
shipper moved through the site along time- stage of its growth. Italybehaved remarkably. The size of the
worn paths. The visual experience of any temples was often prodigious. No sixth-
one building or statue had no fixed value, The Temple in the West century Doric temple in Greece can com-
no single point of view. Treasuries, small A spirited individualism, only partly attrib- pete with the heroic bulk of Temple G at
replicas of the temple built by individual utable to local conditions, characterizes the Selinus, under construction for more than
cities in Panhellenic sanctuaries like Delphi transplanted Doric temple in the Western a century and still unfinished when the
or Olympia, created an unregimented pat- colonies. At the outset, the strange land in Carthaginians destroyed the city in 409 b.c.
tern in relation to the sacred way, jostling theWest posed two unique problems. For Such monumentality did more than
striking
each other as spectators might during a pa- one thing, was not marked, in the way that
it advertise the prosperity of the colonies and
rade. And second, new structures or mon- Greece had been, by a legendary age of pre- their boastful pride: it also overreached in
uments were regularly added to the site, Hellenic ancestors. Moreover, the look and response to the call of the open, un-Greek
and with each addition the relationship of feel of the land was alien. The vast, fabu- horizons. The same rationale, coupled with
those already present would alter and shift. lously fertile plain of Catania, the natural the desire to play host to a fair number of
The site plan, haphazard looking to the harbors and sand beaches, fuming Etna Olympians, must hold for the banding of
modern observer, was keenly reflective of for these there were no Creek parallels. temples in groups of four or more, as is the
old patterns, the drive of civic competi- To mark this unfamiliar territory with case with the group east of the akropolis at
Selinus and the other on the akropolis it-
self, and in the splendid series that dots the

southern sea ridge of Akragas. (Fig. 6.17)


Western Greece, although it remained
within the Hellenic fold, was in no way
subservient to its historic homeland. Its own
unique contributions were legitimate re-
gional preferences than aberrant
rather
provincialisms. We can quickly scan these
design peculiarities by looking at one of the
most impressive of sixth-century Sicilian
temples, the so-called Temple C at Selinus
builtabout 500 B.C. on the highest point of
the akropolis and in plain view of the sea.
Temple C was built of local stone. There
were no marble deposits in Sicily, and so
public architecture relied on local varieties
of somewhat limestone and sand-
friable
stone that had to be protected by coats of
stucco and terra-cotta revetments. Marble,
used for luxury details or heads of sculp-
commonly imported from
tured figures, was
Greece.
The general plan of Temple C is very
elongated. There are seventeen
(Fig. 6.17)
columns along the flanks in comparison to
the standard fourteen. The cella is conse-
quently long and narrow, all the more so

Fig.6.17 Selinus (Selinunte, Sicily), temples at a


major intersection of the upper town; ground
plan. Temple C, ca. 500 B.C., is in the middle;
Temple D is shown to the north; and Temple A
to the south. Hatching indicates houses.

129
A PLACE ON EARTH

in that the architect has chosen to leave an


exceptionally wide space between its walls
and the peristyle. The cella walls in Greece
align with the penultimate columns of the
short ends of the peristyle. (Fig. 6.16) Sicil-

ian temples either have cellas that are in-

dependent of the lines of the peristyle, or


if the walls do align, it is often with the

second and not the first intercolumniation.


These narrpw cellas can be roofed without
the aid of interior supports.
Without rejecting the mid-space charac-
ter of the Doric temple, certain features of
Temple C clearly favor the east facade, and
therefore an axial approach in the longitu-
dinal sense. Behind the east colonnade of
the peristyle, for example, there was a sec-
ond row of columns that found no equiv-
alent in the west end. There were sculp-
tured metopes over this inner colonnade,
but none on the outside in their normal
place on the frieze. The terrace had not Fig. 6.18a An Etruscan temple, according to the
three but six steps on the east side. Lastly, description of Vitruvlus; modern reconstruc-
the cella ended, to the west, in a closed rear tion. (Rome University)

chapel, or adyton, but lacked the false


porch that would equalize the visual status
of the two short ends of the cella when seen
from the outside.
This incipient axiality of Temple C and a the side walls, enveloping the flanks in
Fig. 6.18b Orvieto (Italy), the so-called Belvedere
number of other Western Creek temples shadow.
Temple, fifth century B.C.; plan. Typical layout of
may bespeak familiarity with Etruscan prac- This low, lowering, and strictly axial form,
Etruscan temple with enclosed precinct, straight
tice. And there exist less equivocal bor- fronting a geometrically oriented public
flight of stairs, deep entrance porch, and triple
rowings in Etruscan temples, indeed in space, is from the sculptural force
a far cry cella.
Etruscan architecture and in city planning of the freestanding Greek temple where
generally, from their sophisticated neigh- enclosed space is of decidedly secondary
bors to the south. But the liturgical needs interest. The basic concept of the Etruscan
of the two adjoining civilizations, their to- temple, including its orientation toward the
tal outlook toward the world, differed fun- south, seems eastern and not Greek in or-

damentally. igin. We
should remind ourselves that, in
The Etruscan temple, for long a building all likelihood, the founding stock of the

of mud-brick and wood brightly painted and Etruscan state came to Italy from Asia Mi-
clad was raised on a high po-
in terra-cotta, nor, and more particularly from Lydia if we
dium that jutted beyond a rectangular pre- are to heed the claim of the Greek histo-
cinct. (Fig. 6.18) The only approach was rian Herodotus.
across this formal area and up a broad flight Inwardness, along with axial alignment,
of steps. A deep porch pulled one into its is a prevailing trait of Etruscan built forms.
space through two rows of Tuscan col- It is manifested in the Etruscan fondness for
umns which, despite their bases and un- the round arch and the circular plan. (Figs.
fluted shafts, owed allegiance to the Doric 6.19, 6.20) The origins of the round arch are
order. The porch afforded three passages distant. There are brick, mortared arches in
corresponding to the tripartite sanctuary. Mesopotamia and Persia, even Egypt, in the
The central (and broader) passage led into second millennium b.c. Even the stone
the cella proper; the side passages, into voussoir arch, constructed of precisely cut
open wings or, in temples dedicated to a wedges and dry joints that are locked in
triad of deities, into separate cellas. A sin- place by the keystone, may have had Greek
gle, low-pitched roof projected deeply from rather than Etruscan parentage.

130

II
THE GREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

Yet even with a handful of Greek exam- molded base. The flutes do not meet at
ples, it is clear that the arch
and eventu- sharp arrises as a rule; instead, they are
ally its three-dimensional extension, the true joined with fillets and gathered together at
vault was congenial to the Italic, but not the top of the shaft by neck moldings. The
to the Creek, mentality. The Etruscans used volutes of the capital spread the upward
corbelled vaulting, and the arch was used energies of the column laterally along the
singly, in city gates and domestic architec- line of the architrave. The architrave itself

ture, rather than in any coherent system of is divided into three horizontal strips that
architectural design. It was the Romans who reduce the visual impact of the load in ap-
exploited true vaults and arcuated surfaces preciation of the slender grace of the sup-
later. Nevertheless, the Etruscans were ports.The frieze above was often a contin-
nursing the germ of an encapsulating, uous band of relief,enhancing the sense of
space-engulfing architecture in these cen- a layered elevation that reads very differ-
turies of recovery. And this was a non-Creek ently from the determined verticality of the
phenomenon. Or rather pre-Classical; for Doric.
the great corbelled tunnel vaults and domes One of the earliest and greatest Ionic
that can still be seen in Etruscan funerary temples was the Artemision at Ephesos of
structures are, if anything, a throwback to about 560-550 B.C. (Fig. 6.22a) We have
the era of Bronze Age heroism, to Tiryns mentioned it earlier in relation to the start
and Hattusas. of stone technology in Creek architecture.
The same can be said for the most char- It provides us with a good case study for
acteristic relics of Etruscan civilization, the the rising Ionic order as an alternative to the
mound tombs on handsome circular plat- Doric of the mainland. It also demon-
forms cut from the living rock in the great strates the peculiar involvement of this or-
Fig. 6.19 Volterra (Italy), Etruscan city gate, fourth-
cemetery cities of Cerveteri and Tarquinia. der with the non-Creek context of contem-
third century B.C., with later, Roman repairs.
Round forms as a whole have an extremely porary Asia Minor.
limited appeal in Creek architecture, and Ephesos was a Creek city, but like most
interest in the afterlife does not extend to Creek cities of coastal Asia Minor, its af-
providing for it monumentally. The earth- fairs were tangled in Anatolian politics. At
fast round tombs of Etruscan cemeteries, the time of the construction of the Artem-
Fig. 6.20 Casal Marittimo (Italy), tholos tomb, ca. with their elaborate furnishings imitating ision, it was controlled by the Lydian forces
600 B.C.; interior view. (Reconstructed in the Ar- domestic environments and equipped for of King Croesus, and his interest in the
chaeological Museum, Florence, Italy) allrequisites of a life after death, belong in temple affected the final form. Artemis
spirit to the tombs of Egypt and, in form, shared aspects of the Near Eastern great
to Mycenaean pendants like the "Treasury goddess whom we have met in various
of Atreus." (Fig. 5.18) guises on both sides of the Aegean. The fact
that her temple at Ephesos faced west may
The Ionic Order well reflect liturgical bonds with Asia Mi-
We must now turn briefly to the second of nor.
the Creek decorative systems, the Ionic, The temple was immense by Creek stan-
which crystallized, somewhat later than the dards of the time and was rarely surpassed
Doric, on the Aegean islands and in coastal even later. The site was the low ground at
Asia Minor. The differences between the the head of a broad bay (today silted up),
two orders are plain enough. The Ionic is a close by the water's edge. Low marshy sites
more delicate and more ornate conven- are as common for Ionic temples as is pre-
tion. (Fig. 6.21) Vitruvius was to consider it cipitous high ground for Doric. This setting
the feminine order, in contrast to the Doric helped to emphasize the grovelike charac-
which him was imbued with "manly
for ter of the peristyle that consisted of a dou-
beauty, naked and unadorned." And, in- ble row of columns, eight of them across
deed, the sober abstraction of the Doric is each short end in the preferred manner of
countervailed in Ionic forms by a smack of Ionic temples, and had additional columns
the organic. Ionic ornamental details favor lining the attenuated front porch. The ef-
the curvilinear and freely recall leaf and fect of massing so many columns is almost
plant forms. Egyptian. The cella may have been open to
The column itself is taller and thinner by the sky in the middle, forming a monu-
comparison and rests on an elegantly mental stage set around an earlier shrine.

131
A PLACE ON EARTH

The double peristyle and deep entrance


porch filled with columns radically alter the
experience of the Creek temple. (Fig. 6.22b)
What is lost is the crisp interplay between
the single row of peristyle columns and the
wails of the cella visible just behind. Also
lost is the straightforward relationship of the
entrance porch to the colonnade of the east
front when viewed head on from the out-
side the door slightly higher than the sty-
lobate and standing about half as tall as the
framing columns of the porch, which would
be partly shielded by the corresponding
columns of the The entrance to
peristyle.
the cella, both
then, keyed
is to the peris-
tyle and properly set back from it in the next
plane. {Fig. 8.5)

At Ephesos the entrance would have been


atthe end of a long defile, dwarfed by the
perspective and buried in the sprawling
width of the temple like the promise of a
clearing in a forest. The effect would have
been one of multiplanar depth, as if the aim
were processional penetration. Assuming
that the cellas were indeed hypaethral, the
pool of light behind the entrance would
have enforced this feeling of openness be-
yond and would have acted as an addi-
tional inducement to move toward the core
of the building. This prospect is wholly at
odds with the obscure depths of a Doric
temple where the cult statue would dimly
show when the cella doors were thrown
open. (Fig. 7.26)

Temple against Palace


One element of the Ephesian monument
strikes a curious note. The peristyle col-
umns were a gift from King Croesus of Ly-
dia, and the lower sections of the shafts
were carved with figured reliefs that col-
portrayed a grand procession, very
lectively
probably of the court of Croesus begin-
ning with his divine ancestors. The plant-
ing of this dynastic program on the temple
of aGreek city-state highlights the peculiar
Fig. 6.21 Athens (Greece), Akropolis, temple of memorative shrine is untypical for an Ionic tem-
standing of Ionia compared to the struc-
Athena Nike (Victory), 427-424 B.C., Kailikrates; ple and will be discussed in Chapter 7.
tured monarchies of the hinterland, Lydia view of east front. The general form of this com-
and Persia in particular, a situation that did
not exist for Greece in the West. In these
countries, the palace was still the hub of
politicalpower. To the extent that the tem-
ple competed, it did so in the form of mo-
nastic complexes with large landholdings.
The Lydian capital of Sardis complemented

132

E
THE GREEK TEMPLE AND "BARBARIAN" ALTERNATIVES

F 100 300

M O 25