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Prehistoric Architecture


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History of Architecture Lecture series

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Prehistoric Architecture

  1. 1. Abhishek K. Venkitaraman Assistant Professor HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE LECTURE 1 Introduction: Prehistoric Architecture
  2. 2. Ea rl y H um a n Mi grati on out of A f ri ca Earliest Homo Sapien fossils have been found in Ethiopia Africa West Asia Europe East & South Asia North America South America Australia
  3. 3. The earliest people to colonize the Eurasian landmass probably did so across the Bab-al-Mandab Strait separating present-day Yemen from Djibouti Ea rl y H um a n Mi grati on out of A f ri ca
  4. 4. Living in caves - hunting Settlements developed near caves or along shores and streams – farming & hunting Understanding of seasons – Cultivation – Domestication of animals Specialized tools were developed. Religious & communal aspects – building arts developed Different societies developed differently D eve l opm e nt of Ea rl y Cul ture
  5. 5. natural determinants topography (location) climate natural resources, building materials and technology man-made determinants trade political power religion defense mobility ethnical issues Etc
  6. 6. Circular Layout
  7. 7. Primitive Settlements Non - organized settlements organized settlements
  8. 8. “And when we saw all those cities and villages built in the water and other great towns on dry land, and that straight and level causeway leading to Tenochtitlan, we were amazed…Indeed, some of our soldiers asked if it was not all a dream” (Spanish chronicler, Bernal Diaz del Castillo) – describing Aztec Chinampa agriculture
  11. 11. “ZERO ENERGY” HOUSE In Popular Culture: Flintstones
  12. 12. Rock painting – Ubirr, Australia Apollo 11 cavestones – 25,500 B.C.E Lascaux, France – 30,000 B.C.E Pa l eol ithic Cave Pa i ntings, Tool s
  13. 13. Principles of Architectural Organization Two forces shaped the form of dwellings and settlements: • Functional need • Available construction materials and technology
  14. 14. Re l i gi on, Cul ture , A rchi te cture Mediterranean Mother Goddess, fertility cult Mesopotamia Fertility cult, slowly replaced by a complex set of Gods Egypt Complex set of Gods China Shamanistic (vast network of villages) • Different regions developed with different environmental and social factors • Architecture differed – Buildings for the dead, buildings for the living, temples, granaries, etc.
  15. 15. Architecture of the Civilization NEW STONE AGE • Established permanent dwellings and settlements – Catal Huyuk, Jericho • Improvement in house form including change to rectangular rooms • Introduction of multi-room houses • Introduction of non-residential buildings-for work, storage & rituals
  16. 16. Architecture of the Civilization • Funerary and religious buildings were introduced during new Stone Age FUNERARY BUILDINGS • Structures such as tombs used for rituals and burial for the dead • Example we studied is the Dolmen Tomb
  17. 17. Architecture of the Civilization RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS • Evidence of the first practices of religion • Buildings used for rituals related to worship and religion • Example is found in the shrines embedded within Catal Huyuk
  18. 18. Architecture of the Civilization RITUAL BUILDINGS • Buildings whose functions are not entirely certain • Usually associated with ritual ceremonial activities • Activities may be related to religion • Examples are the Stone Alignment, Carnac and the Stonehenge, England
  19. 19. Building Materials, Construction & Technologies Characteristics of prehistoric architecture will be examined under three headings: Building Types Building materials, construction and technologies Principles of architectural organization
  20. 20. Building Types Categories of Prehistoric buildings • Dwellings and settlements • Funerary and Religious buildings • Ritual structures
  21. 21. Vocabulary Neolithic: the “new” Stone Age (8,000 – 2300 BCE), which marked the beginnings of monumental (extremely large) architecture corbeled vault: a vault formed by the piling of stone blocks in horizontal courses, cantilevered inward until the two walls meet in an arch post and lintel: one of the earliest methods of architectural construction in which two posts (sometimes called “uprights”) support a lintel (horizontal beam which rests across the top)
  22. 22. Vocabulary megalith: a large stone used in the construction of a prehistoric structure Cromlech: a circle of megaliths, as at Stonehenge
  23. 23. • Occurred before invention of written records • Also called Stone Age period because of the absence of metal implements • Occurred from Human Habitation of earth to 9000 BC Prehistoric Architecture
  24. 24. Prehistoric Architecture • The history of man can be classified into different stages and with it corresponding structures were built: 1. Savage stage or the Old Stone Age or the Paleolithic age. Up to 9000 BC 2. Barbarian stage or the New Stone Age or the Neolithic age. 9000 BC to 3000 BC 3. Iron or Bronze Age
  25. 25. Prehistoric Architecture • Not restricted to any particular geographical region • Occurred in different localities • Usually close to sources of food, near rivers
  26. 26. Architecture of the Civilization • Residential building and settlements varied between early and new Stone Age periods EARLY STONE AGE • Always on the move • Used temporary structures • Provided basic shelter and protection for short periods of time
  27. 27. Principles of Architectural Organization DWELLINGS AND SETTLEMENTS: EARLY STONE AGE • Primary requirement is for temporary structure • No desire to invest in construction of dwellings • Constructed dwellings using available materials • Form directly reflecting natural objects
  28. 28. Materials, Construction System & Technique EARLY STONE AGE • Used simple, easily available materials • Usually of plant and animal materials such as wooden poles, grasses, leaves, and animal skins • Construction system was also simple • Usually involves digging holes, putting wooden poles in holes and burying them • The poles are tied together to create the shell of the building • The shell is covered with grasses, leaves or animal skins
  29. 29. The Old Stone Age • Before 9000 BC • Where people used crude stone for their implements. • Man was a hunter and a food gatherer • Got their food through food gathering, hunting and fishing • Constructed temporary shelters from perishable materials such as tree trunks and leaves. • He also made use of natural and man-made caves both below and above ground as shelter.
  30. 30. The Old Stone Age • The method of living was temporary • Nomadic, always on the move • Move about in search of food, water, and good climate • Usually move about in small bands of less than 15 persons • Their lifestyle made them barely able to survive • Not much is known about their beliefs
  31. 31. Neolithic Jericho was protected by 5-foot-thick walls and at least one stone tower 30 feet high and 33 feet in diameter. An outstanding achievement that marks the beginning of monumental architecture. Great stone tower built into the settlement wall, Jericho, ca. 8000-7000 BCE
  32. 32. •When early man emerged from cave dwellings into shelters created by his hands •The history of architecture began. Cave Dwellings Handmade shelters History of Architecture began The New Stone Age
  33. 33. The New Stone Age • Lasted from 8,000 to 3,000BC • People used polished stone for their implements • Their method of housing was made more permanent with the use of durable materials. • Discovered art of farming and animal husbandry • People become more domesticated and were preoccupied with cattle raising and planting • Learned to domesticate animals, farm and grow crops, make pottery and weave cloth
  34. 34. The New Stone Age • Neolithic people acquired confidence in ability to tame and control nature • Period saw interest in natural cycles such as of weather and heavenly bodies • e.g. sun and moon • People learned to differentiate between spaces and places – sacred versus everyday places • Architecture was born
  35. 35. The New Stone Age • Having fulfilled his basic need, Neolithic man sought to conquer fear of the unknown • Needed to understand forces of nature that both nourishes and destroys • Sought to understand the heavenly bodies and weather cycles • Sought to control nature through rituals and magic • Gradually introduced the idea of religion • Confusion about death and life after death led to introduction of tombs • Tombs are evidence of social differences in the society
  36. 36. The New Stone Age • Skills were developed, marking start of civilization • People stopped wandering and settled down in permanent settlements • Discovery: result of population pressure • Introduction of basic social organization of society • Villages were established and grew, protected by walls
  37. 37. Materials, Construction System & Technique NEW STONE AGE • More diversified construction materials • Adobe and stone most popular materials • Large stone was used for monuments • Construction method also improved over time • Significant improvement in Adobe construction • Evidence of ability to quarry, shape, transport and join large stones to create monuments
  38. 38. Principles of Architectural Organization DWELLINGS AND SETTLEMENTS: NEW STONE AGE • Became settled requiring permanent dwellings • Required durable construction • Improved dwellings and settlements to meet needs • Change in form of house, introduction of furniture and differentiation of space • Improvement in village form including introduction of streets • Improvement in construction technology
  39. 39. Corbeled vault of the main chamber in the passage grave, Newgrange, Ireland, ca. 3200-2500 BCE The Newgrange passage grave is an early example of corbeled vaulting. The huge stones (megaliths) of the dome of the main burial chamber beneath the tumulus are held in place by their own weight.
  40. 40. Aerial view of ruins of Hagar Qim, Malta, ca. 3200- 2500 BCE One of the earliest stone temples in the world is on the island of Malta. The 5,000-year-old structure is remarkably sophisticated for its date, especially in the combination of rectilinear and curved forms.
  41. 41. Stonehenge (3100-2000 BC) Wiltshire, England
  42. 42. Aerial view (looking northwest) of Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, England, ca. 2550-1600 BCE. Circle is 97’ in diameter; trilithons 24’ high. The circles of trilithons at Stonehenge probably functioned as an astronomical observatory and solar calendar. The sun rises over its “heel stone” at the summer solstice. Some of the megaliths weigh 50 tons.
  43. 43. Prehistoric Architecture: Stonehenge • Neolithic architecture • Post and lintel construction • Megaliths are 21 to 24 feet tall, including height of lintel, and buried four feet in the ground • Cromlech – • Solar and lunar orientation • Stones dragged from far away to this site • Circle of megaliths embrace structure, enclosing it
  44. 44. Functions of Stonehenge: • Cremation / burial site • Astrological observatory • Solar calendar • Sacred site
  45. 45. The oldest detailed drawing of Stonehenge, found in a 1440 manuscript, the Scala Mundi
  46. 46. Several Phases (stages) of Cons-truction
  47. 47. The lintels (horizontal monoliths) were fitted to one another using a woodworking method, the “tongue-and-groove joint”
  48. 48. Bronze Age • Started around 2,000BC, when iron was discovered. • Carpentry and masonry was practiced. • There was a gradual improvement in the design of buildings, particularly in Egypt.
  49. 49. Huts from vegetation • Space inside is organized for different uses • The hut was used by a band of people for limited hunting days • It is left to collapse after use and new huts built over by the next years hunting season
  50. 50. Temporary Structures: Hut at Terra Amata, France •Early stone people constructed temporary shelters using available materials •One of earliest known example •Discovered in 1966 at Terra Amata in France •Dates back to 400,000 years •Oval in shape and constructed of tree branches
  51. 51. HUTS Bambuti Hut –huts show evidence of use of leaves to cover hut The Tongus Hut –show evidence of use of grass to make huts
  52. 52. Tents from Animal Skin
  53. 53. The Lapp Tent The Lapp tenth shows the use of animal skins
  54. 54. Mud Construction • Improvement in technology led to mud construction and architecture
  55. 55. Brushwood Hut Wood framed huts
  56. 56. Round House, Israel Stilt House
  57. 57. Tepees of American Indians
  58. 58. trullo: Southern Italy
  59. 59. yurts : Mongolia
  60. 60. Neolithic Dwelling & Settlement: Catal Huyuk • Neolithic monument in present day Turkey • Occupied between 6300 BC to 5400 BC • Supported a population of up to 6000 people • Largest and most cosmopolitan city of its time
  61. 61. Catal Huyuk • Had extensive economy based on specialized craft and commerce • The city was a trading center • The size of the city and its wealth are a product of its status as a trading center
  62. 62. Settlement, Catal Huyuk, Turkey