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Monday, December 29, 2014

History of Architecture I

Enjoyed this class and plan to continue with the next two courses in the proper chronology.  This course began in prehistory, goes approximately up to 1000 AD, and covered a multitude of building types including Sumerian ziggurats, Egyptian pyramids, Greek and Roman temples,  Byzantine and other early Christian churches, mosques, and Buddhist temples in India, Sri Lanka, and China. 

We learned about various building materials such as wood, mud brick, stone, and concrete; lots about concrete.  Although residential building has historically been done with materials such as wood which will decompose over time, the instances where sufficient remains survived were of particular interest to me for the same reason that I like looking at paintings of the Dutch Renaissance- because we get a glimpse of how people lived their daily lives.

One very old example of an ancient village has been uncovered in Turkey, Catal Huyuk, which goes back 8-9,000 years:

As the above re-creation shows, these people lived in attached structures much like a modern apartment building except entrance to each unit was by ladders through the roofs.  The entire village is thought to have had a population of about 10,000.

The population of a village from centuries later, Herculaneum, were all killed by the same volcanic eruption that destroyed nearby Pompeii in 79 AD.  Although Pompeii is the better known of these two Roman towns, more residential material survived in Herculaneum because the super-heated pyroclastic flows preserved wooden objects like roof tops, beams, beds, and doors for reasons I don't understand because we weren't studying archeology.  The ash from these flows is as thick as 60 feet, so it is understandable that 75% of the town is still buried.

Atrium houses were among some of the remaining types of residences of Herculaneum.  The structures also contained the family business that was advertised on the wall facing the street.

Taking courses in architecture effects how I look at buildings and other structures,  especially as I walk or drive through cities.  It increases my understanding and appreciation.

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