Essay: Ancient Civis an Examination of the Cultural

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Ancient Civis

An examination of the cultural contributions to the first City-States in the History of Ancient Civilization, the essay looks at the advances in architecture, arts and letters, astronomy, governance, and urban planning in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and the Rome from the Bronze Age to the Early Christian Empire.

ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA

Newly sedentary agriculturalists, the Mesopotamian cities of Babylon, Jericho and Ur saw a range of structural compositions in building, evidenced by the extensive record of a complex of both private and public civic foundations. The stability of fixed domestic locations near the fields gradually pushed into the foundation of towns, cities, laws, and government, which led to the proliferation of those civic projects. Perhaps the first 'sustainable' communities in human record, Mesopotamia's semi-arid climate supported long-term construction of dwellings, temples and seats of government through the use of mixed construction materials drawn from the natural environment (Maddison).

Reliance of the Ancients upon sunlight was integral to the Mesopotamian experience. The incorporation of natural light formation into the planning of the region's architecture is found in the design of residential housing at ancient Ur, where and analysis of light in the environment demonstrates both functional and symbolic manipulation of the sun's seasonal presence architectural form. The shift in natural light conditions over the span of the year would have had important meaning in the context of the Mesopotamian cities, and the essential value of its illumination of living and public space where everyday activities were conducted. This is particularly true where strong summer sunlight increased limitations to human activities. Also pertinent to the examination of the use in temple architecture is the high symbolic and religious inference even at this time (Belmonte).

ANCIENT Egypt

The direction of pyramid and obelisk architecture is often mentioned in discussions on the shift in light from sunrise to sunset, as the zodiacal light commencing in the morning twilight in the east, and setting in the west simultaneously moves across the horizon and the pyramid structure. Pharaohs, architects, astronomers and laborers alike were contributing to a 'sun pillar' of sorts, paralleling the link between the ruler, his or her people and the afterlife (Belmonte). The alignment of stones, it is sometimes implied, was even affected by astrology. The Egyptian interest to reaching into the energy source of natural sunlight, and hiding from its harshness during the heat of summer is similar to that noted in Mesopotamian architecture, and radial arches, columns and vaults.

Impetus to the pyramids seems quite obvious. A highly complex vision of the afterlife is depicted within Royal tomb architecture decoration. Content to those compositions, while the provenance of Art History more so than an Archaeology of Construction, is key to interpretation of the force of their beliefs, as Pharaohs, Queens and consorts are referenced in the mythological scope in passages in the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Dimock). An encasement for rulers, the pyramid insured the protection of their earthly bodies in ascension with the Spirit Ra; to their rightful place amongst the divine. The internal chamber of the pyramid was large enough to hold requisite representation of the deceased's possessions.

Specific illustrations about ancient burial are also present within the well preserved civic and funerary architecture, and statuary likenesses integrated with anthropomorphic incorporation of gods and goddesses were quiet clearly a favorite commodity of the ruling class. Merging ruler with afterlife, it is readily argued that the monuments were in such great demand that the cultural focus on mega construction gave rise to a thriving class of craftsmen. Ancient Egypt was a cosmological-civis: fit for a God-King.

ANCIENT GREECE

Greek architecture possesses the same artistic touch that can be seen in their literature. Their town planning are systematic and are along the lines of a gridiron, which originated with the Hippodamus of Miletus, who also reshaped the Piraeus and it developed further in the Alexandrian Egypt where the Greeks pursued the tradition of their ancient empires. A great deal of attention to has been given to Herodotus (de la Croix and Tansey). Greek architecture has been generally neglected because the great writers from Greece paid either little or no attention to the intricacies and grandeur of the Greek architecture. One exception to this is Pausanias, a Greek… [END OF PREVIEW]

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