Architecture Through the Ages Mesopotamia Literature Review

Pages: 24 (6891 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 16  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Architecture

The Erechtheum and the small temple of Athena on the Acropolis are Ionic however. The Ionic order became dominant in the Hellenistic period, since its more decorative style suited the aesthetic of the period better than the more restrained Doric. Records show that the evolution of the Ionic order was resisted by many Greek States, as they claimed it represented the dominance of Athens. Some of the best surviving Hellenistic buildings, such as the Library of Celsus, can be seen in Turkey at cities such as Ephesus and Pergamum. But in the greatest of Hellenistic cities, Alexandria in Egypt, almost nothing survives, so Greek art and architecture was at its apex during this time.

Roman Empire

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The Roman Empire was a revolutionary period due to the dramatic changes in engineering, architecture and building science (Jackson 6). A form of concrete was developed and used for foundations in structures and the creation of domes and arches reflected the significant capabilities of the workers (6). In addition, glass was used ti decorate the buildings. The magnificence of the Colosseum and the Pantheon are directly linked to this era as well (6). This period also boasts the unusual even strange formation of stones known as Stonehenge (Merolla). Issues of transporting materials to construction sites have long been theorized regarding ancient monuments and structures. Stonehenge is clearly a meaningful one since its' stone weigh up to 40 tons each and had to be transported 20 miles (Merolla). While much debate has occurred, one interesting experiment recently performed sheds light on this question. Wally Wallington, a retired carpenter, demonstrated he could move, lift and place the stones by utilizing nothing but simple tools and the laws of physics (Merolla). The ancient master builders were skilled and ingenious and it should come as no surprise that they found a means to address their needs.

Literature Review on Architecture Through the Ages Mesopotamia Assignment

In about 60 B.C., Marcus Vitruvius Pollio wrote a design and construction handbook (6). Pollio's skills as a writer, engineer and architects enabled him to develop designs, techniques, styles and processes that served for centuries as the authority on building and design (6). The concept of the master builder or architect took on greater significance because the master builder handled the design and supervision of the construction (6). Pollio's guides were basically integrated with connections to construction and design (Loulakis 46). The guide book would be drawn up with thorough instructions from a master builder and then sent to a Roman outpost to build a town (46). Pollio was highly regarded and in his book De Architectura he said of architects in general, "personal service consists in craftsmanship and theory" ********************************** In Ancient Master Builder).

In addition to great building constructions, the Romans engaged in bridge building and roadways. During the reign of Julius Caesar, he and his army built two bridges over the Rhine river in order to confront the Germanic tribes who thought they were safe from attack due to the natural protection of the river (Caesar's Rhine). The Rhine river at that time was 1,000 feet across and up to thirty feet deep making any crossing without a bridge extremely risky (Bridge). The first bridge was a wooden beam bridge with double pilings driven deep into the river using large stones winched over the beam and letting the stone fall (Caesar's Rhine). The bridge was completed in ten days and showed that Caesar could go anywhere. The second bridge built two years later was near the site of the original bridge. It was evidently built in a "few" days as Caesar had thousands of soldiers on hand to complete the work (Caesar's Rhine).

Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine era is essentially the medieval civilization of the eastern Mediterranean with the capitol at Constantinople (Ousterhout 3). The key to changes in architecture during this period is the development of a new type of church architecture (7). Since the church building was the center for devotion and display of religious images, it is logical that architecture would shift the focus from immense church structures to smaller, more intimate churches (7). Builders during this period were faced with patrons (or even Saints) who allegedly directed all things, including construction (7). As this is speculation due to a lack of historical data proving that patrons, if not Saints, were involved it is likely such patrons provided funding and not utter control over construction (43).

Until the sixth century the Byzantines used the term mechanikos meaning architect and mechanopois referred to engineers (45). Within the legal codes of the Middle Byzantine a manager acted as the conduit from the client to the workers (46). In a public works project, a government official who was not an architect is appointed to oversee the construction with a master builder under his command (48).

The Byzantines used workshops as the training schools for boys to become apprentices (520. Clearly, the ultimate goal was to work through the ranks from apprentice to journey with real status at the master mason level. The master mason would continue to hone his skills and improve his technical and practical skills through his experiences and from studying existing structures (52). The impact of the Byzantine era on architecture also resulted in their extensive influence to the East and West (Byzantine Legacy). In the East, the influence was profound. The early Islamic architecture utilized Byzantine architecture as evident in many structures such as the Umayyad Great Mosque of Damascus and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (Byzantine Legacy). Indeed, the Dome of the Rock needed Byzantine craftsman and mosaicists to handle the decorative work (Byzantine Legacy). The West was impacted to a lesser extent but the Byzantines efforts created opportunities in the West resulting in Romanesque and Gothic architecture (Byzantine Legacy).

The Hagia Sophia is a basilica and a great surviving example of Byzantine architecture in what was Constantinople (Hagia). This basilica was constructed three different times, the first two being completely or mostly destroyed by fires (Hagia). The third church was started on February 23, 532 by order of the Emperor Justinian I (Hagia). The basilica would be different since the new construction was bigger and more glorious (Hagia). Materials were brought form everywhere in the empire and used a number of styles for different aspects of the basilica. Examples include Hellenistic columns from Ephesus, green marble from Thessaly, black stone from the Bosporus and yellow stone from Syria (Hagia). This impressive basilicas was quickly viewed as major work demonstrating the creativity of the architects (Hagia). Cracks due to earth quakes in August 553 and on December 14, 557 appeared in the main dome and eastern half-dome (Hagia). Complete collapse of the main dome occurred on May 7 556 and the emperor ordered an immediate restoration. The restoration was completed in 562 (Hagia). Over time, a great fire caused damage to the Hagia Sophia as well as earthquakes including a severe earth quake on October 25, 989 which required extensive restoration. The basilica suffered looting, desecration and occupation when Constantinople was invaded during the Fourth Crusade (Hagia). Some repairs were finally made in 1354 and the Hagia Sophia remained safe until the Turks took Constantinople. At that time, the church was in great disrepair however the sultan, Mehmed II ordered an immediate cleanup and its' conversion to a mosque (Hagia). The most well know restoration was ordered by the sultan Abdulmacid and was finished in 1849. In 1955, the Hagia Sophia was designated a museum by the first Turkish president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the conversion uncovered the original marble floor and removed white plaster from the ancient mosaics, allowing visitors to view authentic works from antiquity that had been centuries covered (Hagia).

Islamic Golden Age

Islamic architecture began in the seventh century C.E. And combined a number of forms from the Middle East and Byzantine. Religious and societal needs necessitated development by the Islamic architects of their own defining features in creativity (Architecture). The Islamic styling can be found in Spain, North Africa and the Middle East and would eventually influence the Classical and Medieval periods in Europe (Architecture). Even before the existence of the Islamic faith, the needed materials for Islamic architecture existed. An abundance of various stone for building could be found in Asia Minor to Egypt and India (Banister571). Roman quarries were still yielding stone and masonry from antiquity enabled the Islamic architect to utilize building examples from the Byzantines and Romans (Banister 571). Glass had advanced and could function as window glass. In the Islamic Golden Age, the existence of several different styles, materials and techniques enabled the builders to be creative and selective.

Prime examples of early Byzantine architecture date from Justinian I's reign and survive in Ravenna and Constantinople, as well as in Sofia (the Church of St. Sophia). One of the great breakthroughs in the history of Western architecture occurred when Justinian's architects invented a complex system providing for a smooth transition from a… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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